Watchdogs: CLASS still dead

The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Program is inactive, according to officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS OIG).

"The CLASS office was officially abolished on April 18, 2012, with the publication of the Federal Register notice that incorporated the Administration on Aging into the newly created [Administration for Community Living]," Stuart Wright, an HHS OIG deputy inspector general, has written in a new CLASS program progress report. "No CLASS program activities took place after this time."

The drafters of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) put the CLASS Act provision in PPACA in an effort to create a voluntary, employee-paid mechanism for paying for long-term care (LTC) services.

The program would have been open to anyone with any kind of job, including workers with disabilities severe enough that they already could have qualified to receive conventional private long-term care insurance (LTCI) benefits, and critics questioned whether the program made actuarial sense.

A CLASS Act  provision required the HHS OIG to report each year on the overall progress of the CLASS program and the existence of waste, fraud, and abuse in the program.

Another PPACA CLASS Act provision required the Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary to verify that the CLASS program would be sustainable over the next 75 years before implementing it. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius suspended development of the program in October 2011, after reported that she could not be sure that the program would be sustainable.

The new "American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012" includes a provision that will repeal the CLASS Act.

Originally, a CLASS office within the Administration on Aging was responsible for developing the CLASS program, Wright said in the latest CLASS program report.

"Following program suspension, the CLASS Office focused its efforts on organizing and storing key office documents and helping staff transition to other jobs," Wright said.

Because CLASS program activities remained suspended in 2012, HHS OIG officials have nothing to report concerning 2012 activities, Wright said.

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