Legal

House Votes to Repeal CLASS Act

By Jessica Zigmond

Feb. 2, 2012

The House of Representatives voted to repeal the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports, or CLASS. Act, a long-term-care insurance provision of the 2010 health care reform law.

In a 267-159 vote—including support from 28 Democrats—House members approved a bill that Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), a physician, introduced a year ago. Called the Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act of 2011, the bill overturns the CLASS Act, a voluntary, public-supported long-term-care insurance program. CLASS was the subject of much debate on Capitol Hill throughout 2011, and HHS suspended the program last fall. Boustany’s bill serves the purpose of preventing the program from resurfacing.

“Nobody believed that it had any real merit when it was passed,” Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), a physician, said prior to the vote. “It was passed as a partial pay-for for the president’s health care bill. So it’s another portion of that bill that ought to come crashing down,” he said, adding that he finds it “peculiar” to hear those who support CLASS say that it doesn’t work, but also say they want to keep it. “That’s a disconnect.”

According to Price, the CLASS program precludes the ability of patients, families and their physicians to decide what long-term care is for seniors or anyone who needs long-term services. “It inserts the federal government in a way that makes it much more difficult for choices to be realized,” Price said. “And that’s wrong.”

In a written statement, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) praised the bill’s passage and reiterated his position that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is making it harder for small businesses to hire new workers and provide insurance for their employees.

“The Democrats running Washington used the CLASS Act to mask the true cost of their government takeover of health care, but even the administration now admits CLASS is ‘unsustainable,'” Boehner’s statement said. “The entire health care law—with its maze of red tape, mandates, and tax hikes—is unsustainable. The Senate should follow the House’s lead, scrap the law, and work with us to enact reforms that will actually lower health care costs without hurting small businesses and jeopardizing coverage for families.”

Jessica Zigmond writes for Modern Healthcare, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, email editors@workforce.com.

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