Congress Debates Class Act Fall Out

Posted on October 27th, 2011 by Em-Power Services

The Hill a Congressionally focused newspaper based in Washington, DC reported that the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health and Oversight subcommittees held a joint hearing on the CLASS Act on Wednesday.

Among those who testified at the hearing was former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy, who’s father led the fight for health care reform for decades. Kennedy called the rapid growth of those age 65 and over coming in the next several decades a “demographic tsunami” — meaning the need would far outstrip available funds in Medicare and Medicaid. In 2000 there were approximately 35 million people age 65 and older. This is now estimated to grow to 70 million by 2030.

What was apparently left unsaid at the hearing is that employers are now the critical link in the long-term care chain by default. Employers can help pre-retirees plan for long-term care needs through insurance, and in doing so, protect their savings and retirements. The average length of long-term care is three years, and can easily exceed $250,000 in costs, wiping out most patient’s savings and retirement. Federal programs only kick-in after savings are exhausted and are for nursing home care.

Today, the House is scheduled to vote on a bill that would roll back the healthcare law’s Medicaid expansion. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), would change the way the federal government calculates whether people are eligible for Medicaid. About a million middle-income people who became eligible for Medicaid under the reform law would lose that eligibility if Black’s bill were to become law. The Hill reports that the bill will likely pass easily.

Republicans are also pushing hard to formally repeal the CLASS Act from the healthcare law, reports the Hill. They also reported that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed repeal last Friday, saying Congress shouldn’t leave an unworkable program on the books even if HHS isn’t going to try to implement it.

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