Congressman Jim Matheson said this month's decision to halt a long-term care insurance program that was included in the health care reform law adopted in 2010 is a step in the right direction. Matheson, who opposed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act during its debate and passage, believes that going forward there are substantive changes to the law that must be addressed to achieve health care cost savings. He is a cosponsor of legislation, H.R. 1173, that seeks to permanently repeal the provision, known as the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act.
Matheson believes repeal of the CLASS Act saves taxpayers from an unsustainable entitlement program--one that lacks actuarial soundness and adds to the federal debt. Matheson is a member of the Health Subcommittee on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which held a hearing on the matter Wednesday.
"I have believed all along that this provision is a financial ticking time-bomb," said Matheson. "CLASS is a poorly designed program that would lead to a fiscal disaster for the taxpayer. This country faces challenges with long-term care, but the CLASS Act is not an appropriate solution."
Matheson said the CLASS Act was similar to long-term care plans available in the private sector in which workers sign up and pay a monthly premium. It was voluntary and was to be paid for entirely by the premiums from those who signed up. In return, subscribers would get a daily benefit. But analysis of the program concluded that not enough young healthy people would sign up, leading to unaffordable premiums for subscribers and a debt burden on the federal treasury.
"Repeal of the CLASS Act is the right decision and Congress should be considering real common-sense reforms that lower health care costs and allow greater access to quality care," said Matheson.