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House repeals CLASS Act

February 2, 2012
by Kevin Kolus
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The U.S. House Wednesday repealed the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act, the voluntary LTC insurance program created by the 2010 healthcare law, by a vote of 267-159.

The bill that the CLASS repeal was a part of now moves on to the Senate, where Democrats aren’t expected to bring it up.

In October, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the program could not be implemented because it wasn’t financially viable. Officials said healthy people may not enroll in sufficient numbers to finance benefits for everyone who needed them.

If CLASS is never fully repealed, and HHS does not find a method of implementing a program, the agency may have some trouble on its hands.

As Avik Roy of Forbes points out, the Congressional Research Service has written that if Sebelius does not designate a plan for CLASS by October 1, 2012, a court could force its implementation by “declaring the Secretary in violation of 5 U.S.C. § 706(1) or issuing a write of mandamus to compel agency action, thus requiring the Secretary to renew her efforts to create a plan that is consistent with the statutory requirements.”

Nonprofit advocacy group the National Council on Aging released a statement bemoaning the House’s vote, stating that CLASS has not been given a chance to be made viable.

"Killing the CLASS program without offering an alternative is irresponsible, ignores a growing problem and lends credence to the view that too many members of Congress are out of touch with the struggles of middle class American families," said Jim Firman, president and CEO of the National Council on Aging, in the statement.

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Republicans paint health law's CLASS Act as obstacle to long-term-care reform

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