CLASS Act receives president's endorsement

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The CLASS Act has Obama’s back. Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said as much today in a letter to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

She expressed the Obama’s administration’s support for including the CLASS (Community Living Assistance Services and Supports) Act in healthcare reform. The bill, which the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging has been advocating tirelessly for, is part of universal coverage legislation introduced by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and the HELP committee. It would provide $50 in daily payments to those who become disabled. The program requires a five-year vesting period.

Sebelius described the CLASS act as an “innovative voluntary program that will provide benefits to people who need them” that the president endorsed and co-sponsored as a senator.

And if you thought it couldn’t get any better, just wait. There’s more. Adding to the chorus of praise for the bill was AARP, the largest seniors’ lobbying group.

"Each year, more American families struggle with the staggering cost of long-term care,” according to a statement released today by AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond. “The long-term care provisions in the HELP bill taken from Chairman Kennedy's CLASS Act make up an important part of reforming our broken health care system and putting more people on track to get the health and long-term care they need throughout their lives. At the same time, these important provisions could take some of the burden off of struggling Medicaid programs.”

Not a bad way to start a Tuesday, I’d say.

And the kudos are likely to keep coming. As the House and Senate ratchet up their efforts to pass a piece of legislation (remember Obama’s August deadline), they will be looking for surefooted programs they can rally around.

This is one of them. It is a finely crafted idea that the Congressional Budget Office has determined to be actuarially sound. And while they may not talk about it much, lawmakers from both parties are aware of the need to do something about long-term care and the overburdened Medicaid program.

After months of discussions, debates and hearings about healthcare reform, this certainly would be something to show for their work.

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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.