Obama administration to shelve CLASS program indefinitely

The Obama administration has put a hold on the voluntary long-term care insurance program passed during healthcare reform by cutting its staffing for an undetermined length of time, the Associated Press reported.

The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act has come under fire since its passage. Critics have long questioned the CLASS program’s long-term sustainability, fearing it would eventually run out of money and require government support.

“Bob Yee, a top technical expert with the program, said in an interview that Health and Human Services officials notified the staff last week CLASS is being put on ‘pause,’” the Associated Press reported. “Yee said the eight-person staff has been reassigned and he is leaving.”

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius previously stated that she would not allow CLASS to be implemented until the administration figured out how to ensure its solvency for the next 75 years. With the hold put on CLASS, questions remain as to whether or not the program will ever see the light of day.

In a statement Thursday, Larry Minnix, president and CEO of LeadingAge, and one of the program’s most vocal supporters, remained upbeat, saying “we look forward to continuing to work with the administration on the implementation” of CLASS.

“Today’s pressures on both Medicare and Medicaid make the CLASS Act all the more important to help families and the government reduce the costs of care,” Minnix said. “To help our states, our families and people with disabilities, we must implement the CLASS Act.”

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Congressional Republicans send 24 questions to Sebelius on CLASS (PDF format)

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