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Despite Alleged White House Objections, LTC Program Quashed

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Despite White House concerns, the Obama administration is not moving forward with efforts to implement the Class Act, the long-term care program the Department of Health and Human Services said last week will just not work.

Administration officials confirmed that even though President Obama does not support repeal of the CLASS Act, implementation of the program in its present form will not continue.

At the same time, both administration and long-term industry officials said efforts must continue to address the long term care needs of people in this country.

“We do not support repeal,” a White House official said Monday, according to The Hill.

“Repealing the CLASS Act isn’t necessary or productive. What we should be doing is working together to address the long-term care challenges we face in this country,” the White House official was reported as saying.

But Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, interpreted the conflict between the report issued Friday by the Department of Health and Human Services saying work on the program will be stopped and the different message put forth by White House comments “as a combination of chaos and insanity, said Jesse Slome, of the situation.”

He and others in the industry pointed out the actuary has left the building, the staff has been reassigned and the program suspended.

“It is understandable that the president doesn’t want to abandon any part of health care reform,” Slome. “But I can’t understand why the president and the Democrats are throwing gasoline on the bonfire.”

CLASS is the Community Living Assistance Supports and Services (CLASS) long-term care insurance plan a voluntary, employment-based program created as part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. 

Kathy Greenlee, administrator of the CLASS program said Friday in a report to HHS Secretary (Kathleen) Sebelius that she does “not see a path to move forward with CLASS at this time.”

Greenlee added that, “I recommend that we work together with Congress and stakeholders, including consumers, insurers and employers, to continue exploring all of the options to address the critical long-term care needs of Americans.”

Her report was forwarded at that time to Congress, as mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, of which the CLASS Act was a part.

Steve Schoonveld, the co-chairperson of the Joint American Academy of Actuaries and Society of Actuaries CLASS Act Task Force, stated last week, after the news broke of the CLASS suspension that the AAA’s “analysis of the CLASS Act legislation and our assessment of the program after the law was enacted both raised serious actuarial concerns about the program’s design and benefit structure.”

Schoonveld raised such concerns about CLASS as its use of only a five-year waiting period before enrollees can collect benefits, likely  necessary rate increases, its  inability to keep rates low enough to keep healthy people enrolled, its  late enrollment with limited restrictions features and its insufficient funding to promote educational and marketing efforts, according to remarks recounted in draft minutes from the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) health and long-term care committee in July.

 ”CLASS was overly ambitious especially considering the current economic climate. But ignoring the problem will not make it disappear and we look forward to more realistic approaches that can help Americans face and address this issue,” Slome of the AALTCI stated  last week,  after HHS delivered its conclusions.