House GOP Moves to Repeal Part of Health Care Reform

Repealing part of health care reform… the 2012 election arrives in fine form. The GOP controlled House is back in full swing this week.  Any question regarding whether anything will get done in the U.S. House this year would appear to have found an answer.  Their first big move of the House in 2012? Repealing the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act — translation: killing long term health insurance and a piece of “Obamacare.”  Most if not all members of the CBC are likely to vote against the repeal.  Below is a press release by Rep. Alcee Hastings that is probably typical of most members.  Reps. Gwen Moore, Keith Ellison, Hank Johnson, Sheila Jackson Lee and Barbara Lee spoke out against the bill today.

“The Republican leadership is more focused on attacking the President than providing constituents needs,” said Lee.

What does the GOP propose to replace the CLASS Act with? Who knows. Any effort to improve this in negotiation with compromise? No. Is this yet another dead on arrival idea being passed in the House to be stopped by the Senate? Yes.


Hastings to Oppose the Repeal of the CLASS Act

Today, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-Miramar) made the following statement in opposition to H.R. 1173, the Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act.  This House Republican-backed legislation would repeal the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act enacted under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  The CLASS Act creates a national and voluntary long-term care insurance program which provides individuals with functional limitations the opportunity to purchase community living assistance services and supports.  It allows these individuals to maintain personal and financial independence while alleviating the burdens on family caregivers.

“Employers may offer long-term care benefits to their employees through the CLASS program instead of or in addition to private plans.  Employees whose employers do not offer the CLASS program may still participate through alternative payment methods.  Regardless of the option chosen, the CLASS program is required to be self-supportive and funded by participant-paid premiums.  Let us be clear: no taxpayer money will fund benefit payments under the CLASS Act.  On the contrary, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the program would save taxpayers $70 billion over ten years.

“While the sustainability of the program is of concern, repealing the CLASS Act in its entirety is not the solution.  As the population ages, our country’s elderly will need more affordable and efficient long-term care options.  Currently, 10 million Americans require assisted living services and supports, a number that is expected to rise to 15 million over the next decade.  Relying on Medicare and Medicaid is financially unsustainable.  We cannot afford to continue increasing already high Medicare and Medicaid costs.  Furthermore, it is clear that the private long-term care insurance market is not enough.  Only around eight percent of Americans buy into it.  Many are either ineligible or unable to afford such insurance plans.

“Long-term care costs currently account for nearly half of all health care spending, and such costs will become increasingly unaffordable in the future.  Currently, long-term assisted care facilities cost an average of $70,000 per year, and home-health aides can average as much as $25 per hour of service.  For the majority of older Americans, the out-of-pocket cost of obtaining long-term care services far exceed their financial resources and many have to tap into already insufficient personal and retirement savings.  This cannot go on; we must either reform or replace the CLASS program as soon as possible.
“There is a cost to doing nothing.  I urge my colleagues to join me in opposing the repeal of the CLASS Act and in working together to create a program that will ensure that Americans who require long-term care can both access and afford the services they need.  The livelihoods of millions of Americans are at stake.  It is time to find real solutions to our nation’s real problems.”

Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Senior Member of the House Rules Committee, Ranking Democratic Member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Democratic Chairman of the Florida Delegation.