Providers outraged: 'Gang of Six' spending proposal would eliminate CLASS Act

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AAHSA President and CEO Larry Minnix
AAHSA President and CEO Larry Minnix

Providers immediately ripped a new deficit-reduction proposal Tuesday that was announced by a bipartisan group of influential U.S. Senators and endorsed at least modestly by both the White House and some key Republicans. The nearly complete proposal, cobbled together within two weeks of the United States possibly starting to default on its financial obligations, would slash numerous areas of healthcare spending and eliminate the nation's first government-sponsored long-term care insurance program.

“It is shameful that the ‘Gang of Six' is proposing the repeal of the Community Living Assistance Services and Support (CLASS) Act program as part of its deficit reduction plan,” said LeadingAge President and CEO Larry Minnix in a statement late Tuesday. “CLASS will save money for individuals, families, states and the federal government over time. More important, it will help people remain independent at home while not draining government resources.

“We call on the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate not to include language repealing CLASS in any final deficit reduction legislation,” the statement continued. “And, we urge President Obama not to sign any bills that would repeal CLASS.”

The Gang of Six — Republicans Saxby Chambliss (GA) and Tom Coburn (OK), and Democrats Kent Conrad (ND), Dick Durbin (IL), Mark Warner (VA) and Mike Crapo (ID) — announced their plan to Senate colleagues on Tuesday. They said they are seeking feedback, including learning whether the plan could achieve a filibuster-proof 60 votes, before proceeding further.

The plan would lower the deficit by $3.5 trillion over 10 years and include billions of dollars in cuts to the Medicare and Medicaid programs. After months of negotiations, the Gang of Six said it disbanded last week after reaching an impasse, but renewed efforts eventually brought at least a majority of its members to agreement.

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