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CLASS Act Repeal Bill Heads to Full House

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, January 19, 2012

The House Ways and Means Committee voted Wednesday to repeal the controversial CLASS program. The 23-14 vote was primarily along party lines with one Democrat, Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), joining the repeal effort. A vote by the full House of Representatives is expected in February.

The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act, which is part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is supposed to provide for voluntary, self-funded, long-term care insurance through the workplace.

The program was expected to go into effect this year, but in October 2011 the Department of Health and Human Services announced that CLASS, which features unlimited lifetime benefits, was not financially sustainable and halted its implementation.

Since then Republicans in both the House and the Senate have aggressively pursued its repeal.

Members of the House Ways & Means Committee spent more than an hour discussing HR 1173, which was first introduced in March 2011 by Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R-LA), and boasts 110 cosponsors. In his opening remarks, Boustany described CLASS as "a new unfunded entitlement that we cannot afford." He cited a Congressional Budget Office report that said CLASS "cannot be operated without mandatory participation to ensure its solvency."

CLASS is set up as a voluntary program with participants paying premiums for five years before becoming eligible to collect benefits, which would be at least $50 per day.

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