CLASS Act only begins to address long-term care needs, panelists say

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The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act would increase access to long-term care, but more actions need to be taken to overcome problems facing the field, according to panelists at a briefing Tuesday.

The CLASS Act, which is currently in both the House and Senate healthcare reform bills, would create a voluntary long-term care and disability benefit to workers. While panelists at the briefing agreed the bill would benefit the long-term care field, they suggested other ways to improve the industry as a whole. One panelist highlighted the need for expanding the long-term care workforce and providing increased education and training. Additional funding should be made available for existing programs that strengthen the relationship between family caregivers and formal caregivers, another panelist recommended.

Among those who gave their expert opinions at the briefing were Robyn Stone, executive director of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging; Carol Levine, director of the Families and Health Care Project at the United Hospital Fund; and H. Steven Kaye, associate adjunct professor at the Institute for Health and Aging at the University of California, San Francisco. The briefing was sponsored by the journal Health Affairs.