WASHINGTON BUREAU — The Obama administration is reassigning the workers in the office that was developing the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act long term care benefits plan – a program that is part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
Erin Shields, director of communications for health issues at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), would say only that the office was being “reduced.”
Shields made the comment after Bob Yee, the actuary for the CLASS Act office, told friends in an e-mail he had lost his job effective Friday.
Yee said in an interview that the 8 members of the CLASS Act unit were told last Thursday that they were being reassigned effective Friday. Yee said he is leaving because he is an actuary and there is no comparable position for him to go to.
Shields said that the office is not closing and that HHS is continuing its analysis of the CLASS Act program.
“As we have said in the past, it is an open question whether the program will be implemented,” Shields said. “A CLASS program will only be implemented if it is fiscally solvent, self-sustaining, and consistent with the statute.”
The CLASS Act provision in PPACA — a provision strongly supported by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. — is supposed to create a national, voluntary insurance program that workers would use to buy LTC protection at the worksite.
The office responsible for implementing the CLASS Act provision was created in January and has been headed by Kathy Greenlee, assistant HHS secretary for aging.
PPACA calls for HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to define the CLASS benefit by October 2012.
Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, Westlake
Village, Calif., said in an interview that he had not heard about the CLASS Act office restructuring.