Obama, Sebelius tout CLASS Act for creating long-term care options at seniors summit

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President Obama and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius visited a seniors facility in Maryland yesterday to discuss prescription drug coverage, preventing fraud and impending changes to Medicare and Medicaid.

Though the main focus of both Obama's and Sebelius's prepared remarks was on the $250 checks for seniors who fall into the Medicare Part D coverage gap, and ways to prevent fraud and abuse, there were numerous questions on other topics from seniors in attendance at the Holiday Park Multipurpose Senior Center in Wheaton, MD, and watching online. Retiree benefits and specialized diseases, as well as alternatives to nursing home care created under the reform law, were popular topics. Secretary Sebelius told the attendees and viewers that the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, which establishes a voluntary long-term care insurance program, would play a large part in creating options for people when it comes to long-term care.

Also, as part of their redoubled efforts to reduce Medicare fraud, Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder Tuesday sent a letter to state attorneys general encouraging them to implement outreach programs to educate seniors on how to avoid scams. The two Cabinet members outlined possible outreach efforts, including cutting the improper payment rate in half by 2012, holding regional fraud prevention summits, holding regular healthcare fraud task force meetings, and a new media campaign being rolled out this summer to educate seniors on fraud prevention.