Members of the Bicameral Repeal CLASS Working Group sent a letter October 20 to Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius reiterating earlier questions about her knowledge of the flawed financial structure of the controversial Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program, which was created in President Obama's health care law. Members of the House/Senate group also asked Sebelius for her explanation about conflicting statements made by HHS officials regarding the program's future.
For over a year before CLASS became law, private sector and government actuaries, as well as members of what would later become the CLASS Working Group, raised concerns that the program's unsustainable structure created false savings in the health care law and put taxpayers at risk. The Working Group's recent investigation also revealed that top HHS officials raised similar concerns three months before the president's health care law was signed.
Last week, Secretary Sebelius backtracked from her previous comments that the program could be made viable. She announced in a report released on October 14 that the CLASS program would be terminated, citing the lack of "a viable path forward for CLASS implementation." According to the report, the Secretary of HHS lacks the legal authority to make certain structural changes to the program to make it viable.
"CLASS was flawed from inception and most likely included in the president's health care plan to mask the true cost of the law. This type of fiscally unsound policy is what led to sky-high deficits and chronic over-spending in Washington. The American people deserve a full accounting of the CLASS decision-making process as well as an explanation for the many conflicting reports from Secretary Sebelius and other senior HHS officials about the program's flaws," said members of the Working Group in a joint statement.
Members of the Bicameral Repeal CLASS Working Group include: Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA); Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI); Sen. John Thune (R-SD); Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL); Sen. Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC); Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC); Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA); Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL); Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT); Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA); Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX); and, Rep. Phil Gingrey, M.D. (R-GA).