Today, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) testified on the recently suspended Community Living Assistances Services and Supports Act (CLASS) and the broader issue of America's longterm care crisis in a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittees on Health and Oversight and Investigations. Congressman Deutch has been involved in longterm care issues since serving in the Florida State Senate, where he led an effort to prevent elderly and disabled patients from losing their longterm care coverage. Today, as the Representative of over 200,000 retirees in Florida's 19th district, Deutch remains dedicated to reforming America's broken longterm care system.
The Obama Administration recently suspended implementation of the CLASS Act over difficulty achieving a totally self-sustaining system. Written by the late Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and included in the Affordable Care Act, CLASS would provide Americans with an affordable, voluntary longterm care insurance program. Currently, seniors are encouraged to spend themselves into poverty in order to qualify for expensive nursing home care paid for by Medicaid. CLASS would move longterm care away from this entitlement based system and into a premium-financed insurance program for community and home-based options. Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee convened today's hearing to make the case for completely abandoning the CLASS Act despite the fact that program actuaries report there are viable options before them to achieve fiscal sustainability.
"For the 200,000 seniors I represent, the recent announcement of the CLASS Act's suspension and the predictable political reaction was disheartening," says Congressman Deutch in his testimony. "This program could provide a lifeline to millions of elderly and disabled Americans, and if it is not going to move forward, we need to find an alternative. My constituents -- our constituents -- expect and deserve that we treat these challenges as an opportunity to get long-term care right in America. I urge my colleagues to work to improve upon an incredibly promising idea that can reduce entitlement spending and provide the American people with greater financial security.