Fiscal deal eliminates CLASS Act without debate

As part of the deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, Congress formally repealed a provision from the Affordable Care Act requiring the creation of an insurance program for long-term care, which had already been suspended by the Obama Administration in October 2011after it concluded that it could not make the program fiscally solvent.

Uncle Sam Hanging from Cliff
CLASS Act Victim of Fiscal Cliff

In its place, the fiscal deal mandates the creation of a 15-person commission to study methods to improve services for long-term services not covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private plans.

The panel’s mission is to “develop a plan for the establishment, implementation, and financing of a comprehensive, coordinated, and high-quality system that ensures the availability of long-term services and supports for individuals in need of such services and supports… and individuals desiring to plan for future long-term care needs,” according to an article in Forbes.

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 necessary daily activities such as dressing, bathing and eating. The provision required the program to be designed so it was fiscally sustainable for a minimum of 75 years.

After a 19-month study, the Department of Health and Human Services 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.

At the time, however, the Obama Administration and many disability advocates pushed to keep the CLASS Act on the books, hoping that the DHHS could devise another solution to provide relief for the ever-increasing costs of providing for long-term care. Many Republicans, however, began immediately pushing for a full repeal.

They succeeded, while the rest of the country was focusing on the taxes and automatic cuts at play during the fiscal cliff negotiations.