CLASS Act Repeal Another Step to Getting Health Care Reform Right

Feb 1, 2012 Issues: Health

Washington, DC--Today, U.S. Representative Diane Black (R-TN), spoke on the House floor in favor of H.R. 1173, legislation to repeal the Community Living Assistance Services and Support Program, also known as CLASS.  Part of the president’s health care law, the CLASS program was a long-term care entitlement program that the Obama Administration recently shuttered, stating they could not find a way to make the program self-sustaining.  The legislation passed the House by a vote of 267-159.

“From day one, experts warned that the cost structure of the CLASS program was unworkable, and yet the Administration and Congressional Democrats moved forward anyway,” said Black.  “Medicare’s Chief Actuary Richard Foster was ringing the alarm bells on CLASS as early as 2009.  He pointed out the obvious fact that those in need of long term care would seek out benefits while healthy people would put off paying into the program.  It is easy to see that CLASS was designed not as a solution to senior’s long-term care needs, but as a budget gimmick to lower the price tag on health care reform.”

The program was set up to take in premium payments for ten years, at a total of over $80 billion, thus lowering the overall cost of Obamacare for the first decade.  However, beyond ten years, which is the limit for the CBO’s scoring window, CLASS would have paid out substantially more in benefits very quickly.  This allowed the health care law to be scored at a price tag $80 billion lower than actual costs.  Sen. Kent Conrad, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, famously called the CLASS Act “a Ponzi scheme of the first order, the kind of thing Bernie Madoff would be proud of.”

“As a nurse who preformed home care for seniors in Tennessee and worked on long-term care issues at the state level, I can understand the inherent difficulty in providing coverage for an aging population,” said Black.  “But our nation’s seniors deserve more than to be used as a budget gimmick to pass a costly and unpopular bill.  We must repeal the CLASS Act and create a viable long-term care solution.  Caring for our nation’s seniors is not a partisan issue.  Both sides of the aisle must come together to get this right.”