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Ms. WOOLSEY. Mr. Chairman, across the United States, anguished families are sitting down at their kitchen table. They're reviewing their financial situation. Many are trying to figure out how in the world they're going to afford their personal long-term care needs or that of a loved one or another family member.
People who've worked hard their whole lives, who are already coping with a sluggish economy, are being crushed under the weight of long-term care costs, depleting their savings and sometimes spending themselves into bankruptcy.
As we know, Mr. Chairman, long-term care is not covered in most health care plans. If you're already old and sick, you probably can't qualify for a separate long-term care policy; and if you can, it's likely to be insanely expensive. Medicare pays only for the first 100 days of nursing-home care, and Medicaid is only available to the very poor. But you don't have to be poor to be overwhelmed by nursing-home costs that average $72,000 a year.
We can't forget that we live in an aging society. As our largest generation, the baby boomers, move into their retirement years, and while advances in science and technology have, thankfully, allowed us to live longer, it means that many of us will require more extended, more expensive care. All this has created a perfect storm in which the long-term care crisis will get even worse, not better.
In the coming years, Mr. Chairman, we're going to find ourselves in turmoil over long-term care. So why aren't we putting our heads together on both sides of the aisle and coming up with ideas to solve this dilemma? After all, we're all going to be old.
Instead, we're here today because the majority appears to want to repeal the one modest attempt to help Americans cope with long-term care costs. If the program needs improvement, I ask them, then let's fix it. That's what taxpayers are paying us to do, not throw up our hands and walk away from this problem.
But my friends in the majority seem to have a different version and vision of public service. It seems that instead of providing service to the public, they view it as their job to dismantle and disembowel any government investment that improves the lives of regular people. Nothing seems to drive them to distraction like the commonsense reforms of the Affordable Care Act. They have no innovative health care ideas of their own. They're simply nostalgic for the cruel and unfair health care system that we have finally begun to leave behind us.
So we need to be building on health care reform. We do not need to be whittling away at it. Vote ``no,'' my colleagues, on the repeal of the CLASS Act.
I yield back the balance of my time.
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