On January 1, 2013, the fiscal cliff has was averted at the last minute with the passage of H R 8, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA).
A section of ATRA 2012 includes the formal repeal of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act. The CLASS Act was supposed to create a voluntary, worker-paid long-term care (LTC) benefits program. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that she could not set up the CLASS Act program because she could see no way to guarantee that the program would be actuarially sustainable. In reality, the CLASS Act has been “deader than a doornail” for a long time. This legislation just makes its demise official.
The most interesting part of ATRA 2012 for me is that it will establish a commission on long-term care.
The LTC commission is supposed to include representatives from LTC insurance providers as well members representing the interests of family caregivers, health care workers, users of LTC services, and users of LTC insurance. Some commission members are supposed to have demonstrated experience in dealing with public and private insurance.
The commission is also supposed to develop recommendations for creating “a comprehensive, coordinated, and high-quality” LTC system within six months after the commission members have been appointed.
We will see how this shakes out. Both parties agree that the biggest causes of budgetary concern are Medicare and Medicaid usage. I want to be optimistic and believe that sane, sustainable solutions for our nation’s long-term care crisis will result. Unfortunately, however, I am skeptical that much good will come of this new, well-intentioned panel, due to the current contentious political climate and the often demonstrated reluctance of legislators to broach the sensitive subject of Medicare and Medicaid reform. Stay tuned…