Rockefeller Hits GOP On CLASS Repeal: You ‘Won’t Do Anything To Solve Long-Term Care Crisis’

The House GOP’s vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s long-term care program isn’t sitting well with Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), who is out with an op-ed in Politico this morning, criticizing Republicans for failing to offer any meaningful solution for financing long-term care services. “They view repealing CLASS as a tactical step toward undermining health care reform — without putting forward any real alternatives for families who have nowhere to turn,” he writes:

Repealing CLASS won’t do anything to solve our nation’s long-term care crisis. Legislation rarely starts out perfectly — indeed, the Republicans’ own Medicare prescription drug bill left a huge coverage gap, forcing seniors to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket. It is only because Democrats rejected the ‘throw out the baby with the bathwater’ approach to legislating, and figured out a solution, that this gap will finally be closed and seniors can save millions on prescription drugs.

Lawmakers had designed CLASS to take the strain off of Medicaid — which finances more than half of long-term care — and allow individuals to establish a cash benefit during their working years that would be available if they become disabled. As Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) explained during a Energy & Commerce health subcommittee hearing, “It was very much a notion of personal responsibility and not relying on the government.” But since the administration decided that Secretary Kathleen Sebelius did not have the necessary authority to bring the program in compliance with the health care law’s sustainability provision, the GOP chose to repeal the measure rather than act like lawmakers and actually work to ensure its longevity. The move is calculated to hurt Obama, but will do nothing to address the long-term care time-bomb:

Medicare dollars spent on long-term care$0 after 90 daysMedicaid costs are ballooning Finances 43 percent of all long-term care, 15 million will need long-term services by 2020Private long-term care market is dysfunctional 2.8 percent of Americans currently have a policyPercent of people turning 65 today who will need long-term care70 percentNumber of long-term care recipients 18–64 year olds40 percentCost of long-term care$6,500 a month, $70,000 to $80,000 a yearSavings to Medicaid from CLASS$2 billion