HHS Halts CLASS Act

The Obama administration has halted plans to implement the long-term care program in the 2010 health care law after determining that financing plans for it were not sufficient.

The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, a program championed by the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, has come under withering criticism from Republicans, who disputed claims that it would be fully funded by enrollees.

“For 19 months, experts inside and outside of government have examined how HHS might implement a financially sustainable, voluntary, and self-financed long-term care insurance program under the law that meets the needs of those seeking protection for the near term and those planning for the future,” Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote in a letter to congressional leaders. “But despite our best analytical efforts, I do not see a viable path forward for CLASS implementation at this time.”

Secretary Sebelius also wrote an op-ed for Huffington Post explaining the decision.

Under the program envisioned in the law, consumers who had paid premiums for five years and become disabled or met other criteria could get a cash benefit of at least $50 a day. There would be no lifetime limit on the benefit. The enrollees could use the money for services or equipment they needed to remain in their homes. Those expenses could include special wheelchairs, home health aides, transportation help or modifications to a home.

More From KHN: CLASS Dismissed and Sebelius On The CLASS Act: ‘I Do Not See A Viable Path Forward’