Strong Words

President Barack Obama: “So the Affordable Care Act I signed into law four months ago will give every American more control over their health care -– and it will do more to give Americans with disabilities control over their own lives than any legislation since the ADA. … And because Americans with disabilities are living longer and more independently, this law will establish better long-term care choices for Americans with disabilities as a consequence of the CLASS Act, an idea Ted Kennedy championed for years.” 

(Remarks by the president on the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act; July 26, 2010)

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah): “Then there is the case of the CLASS Act. The inclusion of this program in the health care law borders on a deliberate fraud on the American people, knowing that any short-term savings from this program were illusory and that it was in fact a Ponzi scheme that could not be made fiscally solvent absent mandated participation by employers. The administration nonetheless decided to include the program in Obamacare.

“It did so for one reason only. By only looking at the first few years of the program’s life, this fiscally unsustainable program actually could be shown to provide so-called savings that could be used to gain a favorable score for Obamacare from the Congressional Budget Office.”

(Comments at the Heritage Foundation; 10/11/2011)

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.): “Listen, there are a number of people who fought very hard for the Class Act. In concept, it makes sense. The problem with the aging of our population is to add a big new entitlement that for the first 10 years doesn’t cost that much, but in the out years, really would be extraordinarily costly. We thought at this moment of tight deficits we couldn’t promise folks this new entitlement if we couldn’t pay for it 10 or 15 years from now, 20 years from now.”

(Interview on NPR about deficit reduction suggestions he and five other senators proposed; 7/19/2011)

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa): “Right now, one out of six people who reach the age of 65 will spend more than $100,000 on long-term care. Yet only about 8 to 10 percent of Americans have private long-term insurance coverage. Medicaid now pays more than $110 billion — $110 billion — annually for long-term care for both the elderly and the disabled. So, I was one of those very cautiously supportive of The Class Act. I was concerned whether it would work or not and how viable it would be. That’s why we put into the legislation the language that would give authority to you, to the secretary, to change the program to make sure that it is financially solvent.”

(Comments to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius at a hearing of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Other Related Agencies; 3/30/2011)

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.): “One of the most troubling aspects of the ACA is the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act.  The CLASS Act is a new, voluntary federal insurance program.  Its goal is twofold:  to provide a cash benefit to individuals with either a functional or equivalent cognitive limitation that become too disabled to work, and to create a voluntary insurance program for healthy individuals looking to hedge against the risk of needing long-term care in the future.  However, the CLASS Act’s poor design attempts to accomplish these two incompatible goals with a single program.  The result will be that the cost of serving disabled workers will push premiums to unacceptably high levels for those looking to purchase insurance, and they will decline to buy.  This will quickly push the program to insolvency.”

(Remarks at a hearing of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Other Related Agencies; 3/30/2011)

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: “Let me just mention just a couple of specific things that are part of the new law. One is there is a provision called the CLASS Act, which is going to allow workers in the current workforce to begin to voluntarily decide to have a payroll check-off and put aside some money that they can draw on later to provide the kind of residential care that I think is being talked about. So if somebody needs to come to the house and help with lunch, or give a bath, or go to the grocery store, those kinds of features. So you’d have your own savings account to be able to draw on that. And that will be managed as part of the law and I think allow a lot of people to have more choices.”

(Comments to a national town hall meeting on the health law; 6/8/2010)

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.): “Eighteen months after CBO pronounced the CLASS Act solvent, Secretary Sebelius finally admitted to the world what we all knew, that the CLASS Act was, in fact, insolvent. As of today, CBO has failed to make public the economic model cited in the report that deemed this program solvent. Even worse, CBO staff now says they do not have the capacity to analyze the CLASS Act long-term solvency.”

(Comments at a hearing of the Energy and Commerce health subcommittee; 9/15/2011)