The Arc and UCP Urge Congress to Implement the CLASS Act

Washington, D.C.  – The Arc and United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) restate their support for the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program. Both The Arc and UCP worked hard to support passage of the CLASS Act and support full implementation of the program.

The CLASS program is a new long term care insurance program.  It is financed by voluntary payroll deductions and will provide a cash benefit for individuals with functional limitations. CLASS plan benefits can be used for personal care attendants, assistive technology, home accessibility modifications, and other supports and services that help people with disabilities to function in their daily lives.

UCP and The Arc support the CLASS program, in part, due to our concern that individuals and families should not be forced to impoverish themselves to cover the costs of services they or their family members need in the event of disability or advancing age.  Long-term services and supports can put enormous strain on both families as well as the federal-state Medicaid program.  Both organizations believe it is imperative that the hard-fought CLASS program be fully implemented.

Nearly half of all funding for long term services is now provided through Medicaid, which is a growing burden on states and requires individuals to become and remain poor to receive the help they need. There is also an institutional bias in Medicaid whereby approximately two-thirds of all spending is directed towards nursing homes and other institutions instead of preferred community-based services and supports.

The CLASS program is a national solution to a national problem. The plan should give consumers access to a broad array of support options, including a continuum of home and community-based supportive services. This new system will ultimately relieve pressure on Medicaid. The new system should promote independence and dignity across the lifespan by ensuring beneficiaries the right to control and choose what services they receive, how and where they are delivered, and who provides them.

We are pleased by the renewed attention to the CLASS program brought about by today’s hearing in the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee.  We urge members of Congress to ensure that the CLASS program is fully implemented as soon as possible so that the working public may begin to participate in the program and insure themselves against future need.