If the demise of CLASS has any greater meaning, perhaps it will serve as a wake-up call for Americans that we need an enduring solution to the long-term care problem. The CLASS legislation, part of the Affordable Care Act, would have created a voluntary, long-term care insurance program that could eventually provide a modest benefit to its enrollees—up to $75 per day to help pay for assistance in carrying out daily activities, a health aide, medical supplies, or to help defray the yearly costs of living in a nursing home.
Sen. Orin Hatch (R-UT) called it a “Ponzi scheme,” President Barack Obama held it up as a testament to the work of Ted Kennedy who wanted to ensure that the elderly and disabled would be able to afford help with simple activities of daily living; Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) simply called the program “insolvent.”
Often, I refer to the health care reform bill that President Obama signed into law in March of 2010 as “the Affordable Care Act” or ACA. Friday, as I read the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM’s) report on the “Essential Health Benefits” (EHB) that private insurers will be required to cover under reform, I resolved never to make that mistake again.
Should private citizens be allowed to sue their state Medicaid programs for imposing rate cuts on doctors and other providers? That’s the question the Supreme Court is currently considering in Douglas v. Independent Living Center of Southern California, a case that pits California’s Medicaid program against providers and beneficiaries who charge that rate cuts force so many doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and other health care providers to drop out of the program that the poor, elderly and disabled no longer have adequate access to necessary medical care.
“Most importantly, we can make modest adjustments to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid in a way that does not undermine the fundamental compact they represent to our Nation’s seniors, children, people with disabilities, and low-income families. The Administration’s proposals will save approximately $320 billion over the next decade. As these reforms save money, they also will strengthen these vital programs so that they are robust and healthy to serve Americans for years to come.”
Saving money through modest adjustments while strengthening vital programs—sounds like a perfect vision for the future of government health care. But will this actually be the case for the beleaguered, but extremely necessary, Medicaid program?
Obama proposes to save $66 billion from Medicaid by taking the following actions: “limit State financing practices that increase Federal spending, replace complicated matching formulas with a single matching rate specific to each State, and strengthen Medicaid program integrity.”