Senators Graham and Thune Introduce Bill to Repeal CLASS Act

Press Release

By:  Lindsey Graham John Thune
Date: April 5, 2011
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and John Thune (R-South Dakota), Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, yesterday introduced the Repeal the CLASS Entitlement Act, which would fully repeal the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, a new long-term care entitlement program included in Obamacare. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said the $86 billion CLASS Act could end up adding tens of billions of dollars to the long-term budget.

"The CLASS Act is a Ponzi scheme that would make Bernie Madoff blush," said Graham. "It's billed as an insurance program for long-term care, but really it's just a huge and very costly government accounting trick. Remember Enron accounting? Well, I believe even Enron executives would be embarrassed by the accounting gimmicks created by the CLASS Act."

"The CLASS Act threatens to put taxpayers on the hook for a massive new entitlement program," said Thune. "Our country's existing entitlements are well past the point of sustainability, and we cannot add yet another program to this existing burden. I look forward to working with my colleagues to move this bill through Congress and fully repeal the onerous CLASS Act without delay."

Experts predict the CLASS Act will attract enrollees who require high medical payouts, which will increase premiums for others and discourage young and healthy works from entering the risk pool.

Democrats have stated similar concerns over the CLASS Act's sustainability. The president's own Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has stated that the CLASS Act is "totally unsustainable," and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) has called the program "a Ponzi scheme of the first order, the kind of thing Bernie Madoff would be proud of."

President Obama's Assistant Secretary for Aging, Kathy Greenlee, recently admitted that premiums collected in the CLASS Act were double counted as funding the program and as savings achieved in the health care law.

In the last session of Congress, Thune introduced an amendment to strip the CLASS Act from the health spending bill, and the effort received a majority of the Senate's support (51-47), but fell short of the necessary 60 vote threshold. Twelve Democrats voted to strip the program from the bill due to questions for long-term sustainability.