Congressional commission aims to address long-term support services

The Congressional Long-Term Care Commission met for the first time June 26, in the first of many meeting that advocates hope will create a framework for tackling long-term daily living services for people with disabilities.

Capitol Building in Washington DC
Commission works on report

The temporary commission, created by Congress as part of its Jan. 2 deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, is tasked with creating a report by September 30. The commission replaces the CLASS Act, a since repealed provision of the Affordable Care Act that would have created an insurance program for long-term care.

“The impending wave of aging baby boomers, increasing life expectancy, and rising disability rates in people under 65 will significantly increase the demand for (long-term services and supports in the coming decades,” the National Council on Disability stated in a sheet of recommendations sent to the commission. “With the changing demographics of the United States, it is imperative that we explore the possibilities of a universal approach to the design and financing of LTSS.

“America should have a coherent and comprehensive framework for its LTSS policies, programs, and funding.”

The commission consists of 15 members, nine of whom were appointed by democrats and six by republicans, according to a Reuters article.

The CLASS (Community Living Assistance Services and Supports) Act, would have allowed individuals, through their employer, to pay into a federally run long-term health care insurance program to provide assistance with services not covered by Medicaid, Medicare and most private plans, such as dressing, bathing and eating. The provision required the Department of Health and Human Services to design the program so it would be fiscally sustainable for a minimum of 75 years.

However, after a 19-month study, the DHHS concluded in October 2011 that not enough people would sign up for the program, meaning that premiums would be so high that the program would quickly begin running at a deficit. Congress formally repealed the CLASS Act as part of the January budget deal.

“The commission should not be sold short, coming out of the gate,” said Connie Garner, a top aide to the late Sen. Edward (Ted) Kennedy, D-Mass., who championed CLASS, in a Kaiser Health News article. “It is keeping the conversation alive.”

One response to “Congressional commission aims to address long-term support services

  1. At least there is some effort being made to recognize a problem that is becoming more urgent by the year. Already, 4 in 10 adults are caregivers for elderly or disabled family members, according to a Pew Research Center report, and the number is growing, having increased by 10% in the last 3 years. While it is a good thing when family members are available, willing, and able to provide this kind of support, the sad fact is that the caregivers are aging as well. Among the supports that should be considered by the congressional panel are those which will help out family care givers, such as stipends to make up for loss of income due to time spent caring for a family member, and help with the costs of respite care. Supporting family care givers would be considerably less expensive than either professional in home care or out of home care.

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