Washington, DC – The Arc of the United States, released the following statement in response to the U.S. House of Representatives vote to repeal the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Program.
“Repealing the CLASS Program could force Americans to wait another generation for a solution to the need for long term services. This bill doesn’t change the fact that many Americans require these services, and it certainly doesn’t relieve the pressure off of Medicaid so that Medicaid can better serve the needs of low income communities. This vote won’t be the last say on this issue, and The Arc stands ready to work with Congress and the Administration to find a workable solution,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.
The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Program was created by the Affordable Care Act to help working adults prepare for their future in the event they need help maintaining independence in the community. If CLASS is not implemented, the Medicaid program will continue to take on the load of long term service needs for many individuals. Average home and community-based care now costs over $21,000 per year. Few Americans have insurance to cover these costs. Only 3% have private long term care insurance and the majority are forced to impoverish themselves to qualify for Medicaid.
Today, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it doesn’t see a path forward for Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Program at this time.
The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Program was created to help working adults prepare for their future in the event they need help maintaining independence in the community. It was also intended to take the pressure off Medicaid, so that Medicaid can better serve the needs of low income communities. If CLASS is not implemented, the Medicaid program will continue to take on the load of long term service needs for many Americans, who will be forced into a lifetime of poverty to qualify for this assistance.
The need for long term care remains a major issue facing millions of American families, and it will take real leadership in Washington to solve this problem so that families face a more certain economic future. Members of The Arc expect the Obama Administration to find a way to keep the promise they made to individuals who need the services CLASS would provide. We stand ready to help the White House and HHS find a solution to make the CLASS program viable.
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.