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AAA: CLASS Too Costly

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A recently proposed federal long term care program would cost too much for the people it is supposed to cover.

Members of the Federal Long Term Care Task Force at the American Academy of Actuaries, Washington, make that argument in an analysis of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act.

The CLASS Act, introduced by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D.-Mass., is part of the health finance bill that was developed by Kennedy’s Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

The CLASS Act proposal would create an optional LTC program that would pay a minimum benefit of $50 per day to qualified claimants who were unable to perform at least 2 activities of daily living.

The average premium would be limited to $65 per month in 2011 and adjusted for inflation in later years. Workers could choose to opt out of the program.

To qualify for benefits, an enrollee would need to have paid premiums for at least 5 years and been actively at work for at least 3 of those years.

The AAA panel recommends changing the CLASS Act proposal to strengthen participant opt-out and opt-in restrictions.

Drafters also should come up with a precise definition of who is “actively-at-work” under the legislation, and they should develop an underwriting approach for covering non-working spouses, the AAA panel says.