The future of the long-term care insurance program created under Obamacare — known as CLASS — has been in doubt ever since the administration said last week that it plans to reduce the number of staffers dedicated to the program. The CLASS actuary even hinted the entire CLASS office might close. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has said the administration won’t implement the program if it is fiscally unsustainable — and, as the financial viability of the program was in doubt even before the program passed, sustainability seems like an unrealistic dream.
But the same groups that urged passage of the CLASS Act — even as the administration ignored internal warnings about the disastrous structure of the program — are now urging the president to keep his commitment to the new entitlement. A number of organizations — including Advance CLASS, the AARP, AFSCME and SEIU — today sent a letter to the president to demand that he do whatever it takes to launch the program.
“Mr. President, Congress gave you the authority to make necessary changes to the design of CLASS to make it work,” the letter states. “We fully expect the Administration to go forward and use that authority in implementing the law.”
It just so happens one of the signatures on the letter comes from Constance “Connie” Garner. Now the executive director of Advance CLASS, Garner was Sen. Ted Kennedy’s lead staffer on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions at the time of the original push for CLASS. As Garner was privy to internal communications about the program, she ought to know better than anyone that, as Kent Conrad put it, the program is “a Ponzi scheme of the first order” or what federal health experts called an “insurance death spiral.”
Advance CLASS and other advocacy groups might not let up on this, but GOP lawmakers won’t, either. And, as the facts are against CLASS, the administration would be wise to fold the program before it ever starts.