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LTCI Awareness — on the Cheap

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The Obama administration has juiced up a major long-term care insurance (LTCI) outreach campaign by expressing concern about the future of the “CLASS” program.

Newspapers and websites throughout the world are now running “Demise of Obama Long-Term Care Plan Leaves Gap,” an article by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar that was distributed by the Associated Press.

The article is appearing shortly after the conclusion of the LTCI community’s 3 in 4 Need More LTCI awareness campaign.

Alonso-Zaldivar writes – in a message carried by publications whose owners buy ink, and digital ink, by the barrelful – that long-term care is “the one major health expense for which nearly all Americans are uninsured.”

“The dilemma of paying for long-term care is likely to worsen now that the Obama administration pulled the plug on a program seen as a first step,” Alonso-Zaldivar continues.

Elsewhere in the article, Alonso-Zaldivar notes that, “Nursing home charges can run more than $200 a day and a home health aide averages $450 a week, usually part-time. Yet Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care, and only about 3 percent of adults have a private policy.”

Democrats put the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) in honor of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., who was dying of cancer as the bill was being drafted and had worked for decades to try to create some kind of long-term care (LTC) benefits program.

The PPACA CLASS program is supposed to be a voluntary, self-supporting, participant-paid program that would be open to all workers and provide a modest daily benefit for plan participants who end up needing help with the activities of daily living.

Critics in the LTCI and elsewhere argued that offering a voluntary program without medical underwriting could lead to a rapid death spiral, with sick participants driving up claims costs and premiums and driving the healthy participants out of the program.

U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced earlier this month that HHS experts agree with the outside critics and see no way to make the current version of the program work.