LeadingAge VP Barbara Manard

Barbara Manard, vice president of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, Wednesday countered criticism thatthe CLASS Act would contribute to the federal deficit.

That is “a misunderstanding about how the federalbudget works,” she told McKnight’s during AAHSA’s annual conference in Chicago. The conference ended on Wednesday.

Several senators last month sent a letter to SenateMajority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) asking him to keep the CLASS Act provision out of the healthcare reform bill because requests for benefits would exceed revenue generated through the program.Under the program, workers would contribute a portion of their paychecks to afederal trust. They would then be able to draw from the trust if they becamedisabled. The program would help to defray Medicaid costs and allow people toreceive care in their homes. It is not yet clear whether it will appear in theSenate’s version of healthcare reform.

Manard argued that the CLASS Act, which stands for theCommunity Living Services and Support Act, has been proven to be actuariallysound. Premiums and earned interest would finance it over the long haul,similar to the national flood control insurance program, she said. She disagreed that it would increase the deficit—that it would draw more money out of the federal budget than it would pay into it. 

“What the main thing is to understand is that thebank account for the CLASS Act never runs out of money,” she said.