The debt ceiling negotiations highlighted the great disconnect between public opinion and political reality, as lawmakers from both parties went after the very programs — Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security — that an overwhelming majority of voters are hoping to preserve. And no program was more easily discarded than the Affordable Care Act’s long-term health insurance program (CLASS). Lawmakers, government officials, and some advocates have all but given up defending the initiative, conceding that its somewhat problematic financial structure will eventually lead to its repeal. The Senate’s bipartisan Gang of Six (or seven) proposed eliminating the program in their debt ceiling package, as did the president’s Bipartisan Fiscal Commission.
This attitude persists despite seniors’ anxieties about growing old and being unable to pay their medical bills:
Many of the nation’s 77 million boomers are worried about being able to pay their medical bills as they get older, a new poll finds. The concern is so deep that it outpaces worries about facing a major illness or disease, dying, or losing the ability to do favorite activities.
Another major concern among the boomers: losing their financial independence.
The struggling economy, a longer life expectancy, ever-increasing health care costs and challenges facing Social Security are putting added pressure on the boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964.
According to the Associated Press-LifeGoesStrong.com poll, 43 percent of boomers polled said they were “very” or “extremely” worried about being able to pay for their medical costs, including long-term care. Almost the same number, 41 percent, said losing their financial independence was a big concern.
One wonders if CLASS would still be traded so nonchalantly in negotiations if members of Congress were of the same economic class as their constituents, were stripped of the government-sponsored long term insurance they currently enjoy, or knew of how desperately they needed its benefits.