CLASS Act Repeal Bill Heads to Full House

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media , January 19, 2012

The committee chair, Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), quoted an unnamed Democratic Senator as describing CLASS as a "Ponzi scheme of the first order, the kind of thing Bernie Madoff would be proud of."

In their hearing statements, Republican and Democratic committee members touched on familiar themes: the potential for lawsuits to require the implementation of CLASS, the program's affect on the budget, and the importance of identifying solutions to the long term care issue. Democrats favored restructuring CLASS while Republicans spoke about repealing the program.

"We need to wipe the slate clean," explained Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), who cited her experience as a state legislator in developing a solution to Tennessee's long term care crisis. "When I first arrived here, I read the entire Affordable Care Act. As soon as I read about CLASS, I knew we could never sustain the structure. We need to start all over to develop a workable solution."

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) acknowledged that the CLASS "is not a well-done solution" and asked committee members to work together on a bipartisan solution. He contended that Republicans were more interested in repealing another part of the ACA rather than stepping forward to address the problems. "Let's replace not repeal."

Republicans cited a study by the Congressional Research Services that presented the possibility of lawsuits forcing the implementation of CLASS if it remains a part of the ACA. "CLASS could return," stated Rep. Boustany. "A federal judge could bring it back."

Rep. Thompson (D-CA) dismissed the possibility of lawsuits. "Anything and everything is subject to lawsuits. We could spend all of our time repealing laws because they might mean a lawsuit."

Although HR 1173 is expected to pass in the Republican-led House, an effort to repeal CLASS in the Senate has failed to gain any serious traction. AARP, the powerful seniors lobby, has joined forces with about 50 other groups to fight any repeal efforts.

Margaret Dick Tocknell is a reporter/editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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