Associated Press: Health Overhaul Law Suffers First Major Casualty
The Obama administration’s signature health overhaul law, under relentless assault by Republicans, has suffered its first major casualty – a long-term care insurance plan.
The program, expected to launch in 2012, had been dogged from the beginning by doubts over its financial solvency.
Proponents, including many groups that fought to pass the health care law, have vowed a vigorous effort to rescue the program, insisting that Congress gave the administration broad authority to make changes. Long-term care includes not only nursing homes, but such services as home health aides for disabled people.
Known as CLASS, the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports program was a long-standing priority of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.
Although sponsored by the government, it was supposed to function as a self-sustaining voluntary insurance plan, open to working adults regardless of age or health. Workers would pay an affordable monthly premium during their careers and could collect a modest daily cash benefit of at least $50 if they became disabled later in life. The money could go for services at home or to help with nursing home bills.
But a central design flaw dogged CLASS. Unless large numbers of healthy people willingly sign up during their working years, soaring premiums driven by the needs of disabled beneficiaries would destabilize it, eventually requiring a taxpayer bailout.
After months insisting that could be fixed, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius finally acknowledged Friday she doesn’t see how.
“Despite our best analytical efforts, I do not see a viable path forward for CLASS implementation at this time,” Sebelius said in a letter to congressional leaders.
We first wrote about the CLASS Act in Another White House Scandal on September 15, 2011, portraying it as what it was — a completely unfeasible entitlement program supported aggressively by congressional democrats because, even though it was an enormous long-term financial loss, it showed enough initial revenue on paper to balance out the fiscal problems with the Affordable Care Act as a whole.
Now, we’re starting to see the unsustainability of ObamaCare manifest in the failure of the law’s major pillars. Losing CLASS makes the Affordable Care Act … well … not so affordable, not that it ever was in the first place, even with the misleading numbers. Still, the bill must be completely repealed, as its tentacles have permeated many aspects of health care and insurer risk assessment.