In another blow to CLASS, HHS shuts down office, reassigns staff
The chief actuary for the Department of Health and Human Service's CLASS Act program has said HHS is shutting down its CLASS office and that he no longer has a job, according to published reports.
Bob Yee, the actuary of the long-term care insurance program known as the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, sent an email to colleagues in the office alerting them to the closure, and spoke to The Wall Street Journal about his job status. He said that the other eight people who worked with him were reassigned to other positions.
It was unclear how analysis of CLASS would continue with no leader and office staff reassigned to other areas, but HHS disputed that CLASS is dead in a statement to the Journal.
“While the staff of the CLASS office has been reduced, reports that the CLASS office is closing are not accurate,” according to the statement. “We are continuing our analysis of this program. As we have said in the past, it is an open question whether the program will be implemented. A CLASS program will only be implemented if it is fiscally solvent, self-sustaining, and consistent with the statute.”
While long-term care groups and some Democrats have supported CLASS, a legacy program of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, some actuaries and Republicans have questioned CLASS' financially solvency.
LeadingAge CEO Larry Minnix says his organization will continue to work with the Obama administration to implement CLASS in light of this news.
“There is no other solution on the table right now to solve the crisis of paying for long-term services and supports,” Minnix said. “Today's pressures on both Medicare and Medicaid make the CLASS Act all the more important to help families and the government reduce the costs of care. To help our states, our families and people with disabilities, we must implement the CLASS Act.”