The compromise health reform plan proposed today by President Obama includes many of the key long-term care provisions that were included in the earlier House and Senate bills. The CLASS Act–the national long-term care insurance program–along with federal incentives to encourage states to expand their home and community based care programs under Medicaid, and improved care coordination for those receiving both Medicare and Medicaid are all included in the Obama plan.
The White House summary released this morning leaves out many details, but the important news is that the White House is putting its weight behind these important long-term care proposals. According to the White House description, the CLASS Act remains a voluntary, self-funded insurance plan that makes a cash benefit available to those who need assistance with activities of daily living.
The White House says, “no taxpayer funds will be used to pay benefits” under CLASS. However, the Obama version also makes what the summary calls “a series of changes” to the Senate version of CLASS, although those adjustments are not described.
Similarly, the Obama plan retains proposals that give states more flexibility–and more federal money–to offer home and community-based long-term care.
The fate of the package remains unknown. Many of the health and long-term care provisions have been strongly opposed by Republicans and some moderate Democrats. We’ll know more after Obama’s health summit on Thursday. But, for now, critical long-term care proposals live.
Glad to see President Obama include the CLASS Act. This weekend I ran into a member of Congress at an event. Asked him to support the CLASS Act. He asked what it was – then I told him. The Congressman’s spouse piped in – “We bought long-term care insurance.” I congratulated her and let her know that unfortunately not everyone could afford such insurance. And that’s why the CLASS Act was a good thing to move forward. He then said he hoped that neither the House or Senate bill would pass, and then he walked away to enter a room of his supporters. Again, glad that the CLASS Act is in the President’s plan. Need to keep up the discussion on long-term care financing reform. This particular Congressman clearly didn’t understand the need.
Remarkable (and depressing) that after a year of debate Eric ran into a member of congress who never heard of the CLASS Act. My experience is similar–too many lawmakers are still oblivious to long-term care issues. My theory: It is not about whether they are Ds or Rs, or liberals or conservatives. It is about whether they have been caregivers or not. If they have, they get it. If they have not….well, Eric found one who has not.