CLASS Act might be left out of final healthcare reform bill

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Author Howard Gleckman
Author Howard Gleckman

The future of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, which many observers see as a potentially powerful boon to long-term care, is increasingly uncertain. Many in the reform debate appear less than enthusiastic about the measure, according to a recent report.

Despite early support from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and President Obama, many believe that the CLASS Act, which was introduced by the recently deceased Sen. Edward Kennedy, now has a void of support. As a result, it could be left out of a final healthcare overhaul bill. "It just seems to be one of those issues where everybody says, 'Yeah, we've got to deal with it, but we're not going to deal with it now,'" said Howard Gleckman, a researcher at the Urban Institute, in an Associated Press report.

Some political observers believe that the measure, which would establish a government-sponsored long-term care benefit to help pay for nursing home and in-home care, would help build support for overall healthcare reform from a currently reluctant senior population. Democrats and the Obama administration thus far have shown little enthusiasm for the measure, according to the AP.

The CLASS Act is roundly supported by many long-term care advocates, including leaders of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, who have promoted a similar program of their own. The CLASS Act was first introduced in 2007 by Kennedy, then-Sen. Barack Obama and current Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT).