CLASS Act was doomed from the start, says GOP report

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Stephen A. Moses
Stephen A. Moses
Health and Human Services officials were concerned about the sustainability of the CLASS Act prior to the bill's passage, according to a new report.

A group of congressional Republicans, known as the Repeal CLASS Working Group, released a scathing report Thursday that detailed emails from HHS officials that questioned the financial solvency of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports program. Working Group members contend that the Obama administration suppressed the alarms and kept the program in the Affordable Care Act.

The CLASS Act is a federally backed LTC insurance program for elderly and disabled individuals, which is meant to be self-sustaining. It has been championed by nursing home advocacy groups, including LeadingAge.

Larry Minnix, LeadingAge's CEO, decried the Working Group's report and said its assessment of the program is flawed. Minnix says the emails contained in the report were written before the Gregg Amendment required Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to ensure the solvency of the CLASS Act.

“The CLASS Act passed because it is the right thing for America to do and it's what Americans want. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation/ Harvard poll found that 76% of Americans supported the CLASS Act,” Minnix said. “We should let Secretary Sebelius design the CLASS Act before we rip it down. Without an alternative, how else will our country solve the crisis in paying for long-term services and supports?"

But Stephen A. Moses, president of the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, a proponent of private insurance and a vocal opponent of the CLASS Act, said the program is getting needed scrutiny. “It had to hit a brick wall,” Moses said. “We desperately need a viable financing system that will attract more private financing. CLASS is not the way to do it.”