government

House panel votes to repeal long-term-care program

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Nov. 28, 2011

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The House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee on Nov. 15 approved a measure to repeal a long-term-care program authorized by the health system reform law. Health subcommittee Chair Joe Pitts (R, Pa.) said the goal of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports program was laudable, but that the program is financially unsustainable.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced on Oct. 14 that the department is suspending its efforts to implement the CLASS Act. The health reform law required the secretary to launch a program that is actuarially viable for 75 years, is fully paid for by enrollee premiums, and offers lifetime and cash benefits, but HHS decided that is not feasible.

Health subcommittee member Rep. John Dingell (D, Mich.) said voting to repeal the CLASS Act without suggesting a replacement for it is irresponsible. "We have no viable alternative for affordable long-term care," he said. Ten million Americans need such care today, and 15 million will need it by 2020, he said.

Pitts said his subcommittee will revisit the issue of long-term care.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2011/11/28/gvbf1128.htm.

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