NCOA Supports Secretary Sebelius' Comments on CLASS Act

Program Offers Hope to Americans Who Want to Stay at Home Should They Need Long-term Care

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Council on Aging (NCOA) applauds the comments made today by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about plans to implement the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act (CLASS), an important long-term care component of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100615/NCOALOGO)

"We commend the Secretary's commitment to implementing the CLASS program in a manner that will provide affordable, meaningful coverage for community-based long-term care services for millions of Americans and their families," said Jim Firman, president and CEO of NCOA. "Most seniors in need now have no choice but to spend down into poverty and be placed in a nursing home if they should need help."

Secretary Sebelius also cleared up several misconceptions about the CLASS program. It is important to understand that CLASS:

  • Guarantees that no federal tax funds will be used to pay benefits;
  • Includes flexibility for the Secretary to craft an affordable, attractive benefit package;
  • Provides new options to delay or avoid placement in nursing homes;
  • Is fiscally responsible, with strong provisions to assure fiscal solvency for 75 years;
  • Will empower consumers with new choices and avoid federal bureaucracy through a flexible cash benefit;
  • Has no mandates. The plan will be optional for employers and consumers; and
  • Will reduce federal and state Medicaid spending by an estimated $3.5 billion over the first ten years, with much larger savings anticipated thereafter.

"NCOA has confidence that we will one day look back at the CLASS program as one of the great successes of health reform," said Firman. "We look forward to working with the Administration and Congress to help ensure that the program is implemented in a way that will provide choice, independence, and dignity for the growing number of Americans who will need long term care services."

This voluntary program represents a new, historic, and fiscally responsible opportunity for Americans to invest in reliable long term care coverage that works. Currently, Medicare and employer-based policies cover little or no long-term care. Nearly half of all funding for long-term care services is now provided through Medicaid, which is a growing burden on states and requires individuals to become and remain poor to receive the help they need. There is also an institutional bias in Medicaid which directs about two-thirds of all spending to nursing homes and other institutions instead of receiving widely preferred home and community-based services.

Unlike private long term care insurance available today, no one could be turned down for CLASS coverage because of a pre-existing illness or disability and the benefits could last for a lifetime.

For more information from NCOA on the CLASS Act and the Affordable Care Act, please visit www.ncoa.org/StraightTalk.

About NCOA

The National Council on Aging is a non-profit service and advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. NCOA is a national voice for older Americans - especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged - and the community organizations that serve them. It brings together non-profit organizations, businesses and government to develop creative solutions that improve the lives of all older adults. NCOA works with thousands of organizations across the country to help seniors find jobs and benefits, improve their health, live independently and remain active in their communities. For more information, visit www.NCOA.org.

SOURCE National Council on Aging

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