Taxed into Long-Term Care

Tait Trussell is a national award-winning writer, former vice-president of the American Enterprise Institute and former Washington correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.


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If Barack Obama is reelected, an extremely expensive expansion of ObamaCare may well be heaped upon Americans.

Because the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act now lets the federal government tax us for not doing what it demands of us, the administration can institute a long-term insurance program, which Americans will have to pay for whether or not they want it or can afford it.

Involved is reincarnation of a section of the original Obamacare bill. It was called Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act (CLASS). When ObamaCare was first drafted, the CLASS Act was slipped into it. It was a Ted Kennedy favorite. It would raise $70 billion to help keep the total cost of the health care overhaul down to Obama’s promised level—below a billion dollars.

Long-term care is provided by nursing homes, assisted-care facilities and in-home health aides for the elderly and the disabled. But most people don’t buy long-term care because it’s so expensive. Some hope they won’t need it or their  families will care for them. The poor get nursing home care through Medicaid, a sub-standard assistance. But the backers of Obamacare thought long-term care should be included for everyone.

CLASS provided for Americans to voluntarily pay premiums of as much as $3,000 a month to receive future long-term care costs in a nursing home or through an in-home health plan. That amount would nowhere near pay for home health care in a long-term care facility or in-home health care these days.

Last October, the Obama administration health wizards shook themselves into reality and decided it would have to pull the plug on CLASS. It finally admitted this entitlement program was unsustainable as a voluntary plan. Estimates made at the time the bill was written were never reliable.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Congress: “For 19 months, experts inside and outside of government have examined how HHS might implement a financially sustainable, voluntary and self-financed long-term care insurance program under the law that meets the needs of those seeking protection for the near term and those planning for the future. The work has been groundbreaking in many ways and has taught us a great deal. … But despite our best analytical efforts, I do not see a viable path forward for CLASS implementation at this time.” Sebelius also wrote that the challenge the CLASS Act was created to address is not going away.

“By 2020,” she wrote emotionally, “we know that an estimated 15 million Americans will need some kind of long-term care and fewer than 3% have a long-term care policy…. These Americans are our family, our friends and our neighbors. If they are to live productive and independent lives, we need to make sure that they have access to the long-term care supports that make that possible.

“The CLASS program seeks to address the critical need that Americans have for affordable long-term care service,” Sebelius continued. “The current market does not offer viable options for those unable to access private long-term care insurance. We look forward to working with … Congress, consumer advocates, healthcare providers, insurers and other stakeholders to find solutions that ensure all Americans have the choices that best meet their needs.”

Democrats knew from the beginning that CLASS would have to pay out more in benefits than it collected in premiums. Medicare Actuary Richard Foster warned  in 2009 that the program would have to enroll more than 230 million people—more people than in the entire American workforce to come even close to working.

Backers of CLASS knew the program wasn’t fiscally sound well before the Obamacare law passed in 2010, according to the Associated Press, which wrote:

“Even as leading Democrats offered assurances to the contrary, government experts repeatedly warned that a new long-term care insurance plan could go belly up, saddling taxpayers with another under-funded benefit program, according to emails disclosed by congressional investigators.”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.villano.71 Mike Villano

    The successful implementation of Obamacare will drive up the real cost of medicine and medical care and will get people killed.
    But that's ok because with all government programs the beneficiaries are the bureaucrats and administrators who implement and oversee the programs like public schools. The purpose isn't to educate children.
    It's actually a job works program for the benefit of the adults who run the program.
    The purpose of Obamacare is to benefit the medically illiterate administrators and bureaucrats who will have control over "medical allocation." These parasites will get people killed ROUTINELY but thanks to the liars whom some still call journalists and reporters we know these malignant parasites will never get blamed for the death and destruction they will inevitably wreak if Obamacare is successfully implemented.
    Stone false prophets!

  • michele120

    Apparently, many Americans did not pay attention during high school government class or listen to the Supreme Court's rationale. They ruled strictly according to the Constitution. They went out of their way to explain that Congress did not have the right to force Americans to buy a product, however, Congress did have the authority to tax Americans. Their ruling was not a validation of Obamacare. It was nothing more than reaffirming the old saying, "even a blind pig can find an acorn, occasionally." The only way the Individual Mandate was allowed was that the Constitution permits Congress to levy taxes. The Court said that the "Penalty" that Obama, the constitutional lawyer, said was not a tax was indeed a tax. Americans have a choice to buy either the "Essential Benefits" plan or pay a new tax, that Obama swore was not a tax. The decision changed Obama's status from "dictator" to "liar."

    What concerns me is that Obama was able to unilaterally suspend C.L.A.S.S. The language of the PPACA does not say, "The Secretary May…" it says, "The Secretary Shall…" In other words, it was not the desire of Congress for the president to only find a way to make C.L.A.S.S. work if he thought it was feasible. Congress told him to make it happen. He was the one who decided it could not happen, yet he is opposed to allowing Title VIII of his precious legislation be repealed. Rather than enforcing all the laws congress makes, he only enforces those he thinks are worth enforcing.

    • Jim_C

      Sort of like…every president, ever.

  • ajag23

    I still vaguely remember that in the late 80s Congress passed something like the CLASS act. It was vigorously opposed and was soon after repealed. We never hear about this precedent to both Obamacare and CLASS and why it could be so easily repealed . I think it would be a beneficial public service for somebody in the journalistic profession to investigate and summarize what happened 25 years ago, but seems impossible today?

  • Jim_C

    Newsflash: Costs were projected to skyrocket well before Obamacare.