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Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PITTS. Madam Chair, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Chair, I'd like to speak to H.R. 1173, the Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act of 2011, which repeals the CLASS program which was rushed into law in the President's health reform bill.

Last February, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius publicly admitted that the more than $80 billion CLASS Act was ``totally unsustainable.'' But it was not until 8 months later, on October 14, that the Department of Health and Human Services announced it was not moving forward with the implementation of the CLASS program ``at this time.''

On October 26, 2011, Assistant Secretary Kathy Greenlee testified before our subcommittee that the Department had spent $5 million in 2010 and 2011 trying to implement the program. The Secretary's conclusion that the CLASS program could not meet the law's 75-year solvency requirement and was not sustainable was not a surprise to anyone who had been following the issue. Even before its inclusion in the President's health care law, PPACA, in March of 2010, we were warned by the administration's own actuary, the American Academy of Actuaries; Members of Congress from both parties; and outside experts that the program would not be fiscally sustainable. On July 9, 2009, approximately 8 months before PPACA was signed into law, CMS's own actuary, Richard Foster, wrote ``36 years of actuarial experience lead me to believe that this program would collapse in short order and require significant Federal subsidies to continue.''

I support the intent behind the CLASS program to help Americans purchase long-term care policies that most of us will end up needing at some point, but only about 9 million Americans actually purchase. Long-term care costs are frighteningly high, and many Americans face bankruptcy or ending up on Medicaid, or both, in order to get the care they need.

But while the goals of the program were worthy, good intentions do not make up for fundamentally flawed, actuarially unsound policies designed to show the illusion of savings. The President has left us with a budget hole of more than $80 billion. The irresponsible nature of the CLASS program's inclusion in the health care law is just a sample of the budget gimmicks used to pass the health care law in the dark of the night nearly 2 years ago. The President will have to explain why, years later, the taxpayers are left with a failed program that will cost this Nation at least $80 billion. That is more than 150 Solyndra scandals.

Shelving this failed program is not enough. As long as it is on the books, it will continue to create substantial uncertainty in the private sector about what the government's role in long-term care insurance will be. Let's repeal the CLASS program, not try to tinker around the edges of a fundamentally flawed model, and take up real solutions to this problem instead.

I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 1173, to repeal the failed CLASS program so that we can move forward with reforms that work.

And with that, I reserve the balance of my time.


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