Tags: GOP | Probe | CLASS | Act

GOP To Probe WH on Slow Sinking of CLASS Act

Saturday, 15 Oct 2011 01:03 PM

By Gary Cohen

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House Republicans want to know why it took the White House as long as it did to do away with the health law's long-term care CLASS Act, The Hill reports.

hill probe class actHouse Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., announced Friday his committee's health and oversight panels have targeted October 26 to open up a hearing.

His announcement came the same day the White House pulled the plug on the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports program which was supposed to be a self-sustaining voluntary insurance plan.

A major problem with the CLASS Act was that unless significant numbers of healthy individuals signed up for it while they were still working, rising premiums due to the needs of disabled beneficiaries would eventually destablize the program.

The hearing comes a month after Upton's committee issued a report which accused the White House of turning a deaf ear to concerns that the program was not sustainable. The report said the Administration kept the program in place in order to use the projected savings to overstate the overall health law's impact on deficit reduction.

"Make no mistake, the CLASS program was tucked into the healthcare law to provide $86 billion in false savings, and this budget gimmick is a prime example of why Americans are losing faith in Washington. We plan to hold this hearing to get answers about why this sham was carried on for as long as it was, and what cancellation of the program means for the law's growing price tag," Upton said in announcing the hearing.

Savings from the CLASS Act had represented approximately 40 percent of the health law's overall $210 billion in deficit reduction over the course of a decade.

Doing away with the program will make the Republicans' task of repealing the entire law easier and each of the GOP presidential candidates have vowed to repeal the law.

Under the CLASS Act, people with disabilities were to have received daily benefits if they had paid monthly premiums for at least five years.

Prior to the nixing of the CLASS Act, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, had pointed out, "It is worth remembering that the CLASS Act is only one of the unwise, unsustainable components of an unwise, unsustainable law."

"We should repeal the CLASS Act and the rest of the health care spending law and replace it with the type of common-sense reforms that lowers costs," McConnell added.

The future of the CLASS Act was thrown into doubt last month when the program's former actuary said the Department of Health and Human Services was laying him off and was going to be killing the program.

At that time, the White House said that was just a "rumor" even though, as it turned out, the Administration had told Senate Democrats on the Appropriations Committee not to park any funds for the program in the 2012 spending bill.

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