Amendment threatens existence of CLASS Act in Senate bill

An amendment to the Senate healthcare bill proposed by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) would strip the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act from the final legislation. The move has prompted long-term care advocates to take action against the amendment.

Fiscal conservatives have criticized the CLASS Act, a long-term care insurance program, because of projections it will add to the federal deficit in 2030. The American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging argues that the program, while it will be deficit-reducing at some point, still would have enough money to remain solvent and self-sustaining for at least 75 years. It would not require taxpayer dollars at any time, the association says. A total of 51 votes are required to defeat any proposed amendment. AAHSA has been actively appealing to its members and the public at large to call their senators in support of the provision.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said discussions about the future of the CLASS Act are ongoing, and changes could be made to guarantee the program’s long-term solvency. He also addressed the possibility of a new, more powerful Medicare payment advisory panel. It is unclear if the House of Representatives, which did not include the panel in its reform bill, would have to accept such a panel if the Senate includes it in its legislation, he said.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, senators voted to keep $460 billion in Medicare cuts in the bill.