KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

House GOP Targets CLASS Act During Subcommittee Hearing

Republicans on the panel took issue with the 2012 start-up funding sought by the Department of Health and Human Services, though the long-term care program is one part of the health law Democrats have made clear they are open to refining. Meanwhile, Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., said he planned to introduce legislation that day - Thursday - to repeal the program.

The Hill: House GOP Questions CLASS Act Startup Funds
House Republicans on Thursday questioned why the White House is requesting millions of dollars to implement a long-term health insurance program that the administration admits is unsustainable. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is seeking $120 million in the 2012 budget to ramp up implementation of the Community Living Assistance Services and Support (CLASS) Act, a voluntary program included in the health care reform law enacted nearly a year ago. But Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Health subpanel want to know why HHS is moving forward on a program that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius acknowledges is deeply flawed (Millman, 3/17).

Modern Healthcare: House GOP Targets Long-Term-Care Program
A public, long-term-care insurance program included in the health care reform law is the latest target of House Republicans. During a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) - a physician who earlier this year introduced a bill on medical liability reform - said he is co-sponsoring legislation that will be introduced later today to repeal the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports, or CLASS, program that was a part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Zigmond, 3/17).

National Journal: Long-Term Care Hearing Not A CLASS Act
House Republicans picked at their latest target in the health care law on Thursday - long-term care insurance - but could not explain how they would control costs beyond repealing a voluntary program established in the legislation. The program, Community Living Assistance Services and Supports, is one piece of the health care law that the Obama administration has made clear needs serious fixing. Democrats agreed that CLASS does not quite work, but they want to leave the fixing of it to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. CLASS is intended to cover volunteers using premiums alone, not federal money. But critics have said the current thresholds could allow far too many high-risk people to enter the program who could drain its funds within 10 years (McCarthy, 3/17).

Politico Pro: Long-Term Care Problem: Low Participation
During Thursday's House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing on the CLASS program, Democrats spoke about the importance of long-term care insurance while Republicans suggested the private market might offer a better solution than a new government insurance program. The subcommittee's Republican chairman Joe Pitts and vice chairman Michael Burgess, Politico learned, both purchase long-term care insurance. But former E&C chairman John Dingell and ranking member Frank Pallone don't have it. Long-term care insurance is an optional benefit for federal employees. The split on the committee illustrates one of the problems for long-term care insurance: participation (Feder, 3/17).

CQ HealthBeat: CLASS Won't Begin Until It's Financially Viable, HHS Says
A top Health and Human Services official pledged at a House hearing Thursday that a long-term-care program included in the health overhaul law won't be launched unless it is financially sustainable. Kathy Greenlee, assistant secretary for aging at HHS, made that promise after House Republicans raised the possibility that premiums could top $240 a month and expressed disbelief that the program will ever work. Greenlee also defended the $120 million requested by the Obama administration in fiscal 2012 for implementing the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program, saying $94 million of it will be used for public outreach and education to bring in the kind of broad-based enrollment that the insurance program will need to succeed (Norman, 3/17).

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