The Community Living Assistance Services and Support (CLASS) Program, would be the first federal and consumer financed long-term care program in the United States. It would be a voluntary, government-run LTC insurance program that offers participants a single benefit plan with a daily cash benefit. Beneficiaries could use the money to purchase nonmedical services for use either at home or at their chosen residence. There would be no limit on how long a person can receive benefits through CLASS.
Word in August was that implementation of the program may be pushed back to 2013 and now there is speculation that the program may not be implemented at all. At the very least it appears that the Obama administration has asked that the Senate Appropriations Health subcommittee to halt any funding the CLASS Act was to receive for fiscal year 2012.
Those against the program, have targeted it in deficit reduction negotiations maintaining that the program is not fiscally sustainable and would be a burden on the federal budget. Supporters maintain that modifications can be made to the program to ensure that there are no tax payer dollars used to pay for it.
Originally, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) stated that it would not implement the program if it is not “fiscally solvent, self-sustaining, and consistent with the statute.” DHHS then promised to release an analysis of what could be done to shore up the program’s financial structure based on a review of legal and actuarial reports. Most recently, on September 22, 2011, DHHS said that it may not go forward with the program at all. On October 14, 2011, DHHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius stated that the administration had no way to make the program work even though they’d set out on a very wide search for some sort of model that would succeed.
Connie Garner, Executive Director of Advance CLASS and Larry Minnix, CEO of LeadingAge refuse to accept this fate of the program and have stated that until they hear directly from the President or the White House that CLASS will not happen they expect it to move forward as promised by the current administration. The two groups state that though a perfect model has not been identified the actuarial report shows that CLASS can be implemented sustainably and it provides ideas for the development and eventual implementation of the program.
On October 17, 2011, the Congressional Budget Office issued a ruling that clears the way for repeal of the CLASS Act. A White House spokesman came out stating that the Administration does not support repeal of the CLASS Act and that all sides should be working together to come up with ideas to address the issues related to long-term care in the U.S.