Officials at Paralyzed Veterans of America were dismayed to learn that the Obama Administration seems to be backing out of plans to implement the long-term-care (LTC) portion of its health-care plan.
Earlier this month, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the LTC program is not financially sustainable and that her department would suspend work on it.
Paralyzed Veterans supports the Community Living Assistance Services and Support (CLASS) Act because the nation is facing a critical need for long-term care (LTC) services as the population rapidly ages, said Lee Page, associate advocacy director. In addition, veterans and others with spinal cord injuries and diseases may require long-term care for life. Veterans with catastrophic injuries, such as spinal cord injury, normally receive long-term-care services through VA; however, most veterans do not. Working family members and caregivers—who are not eligible for VA benefits—would be eligible for CLASS benefits as well.
“CLASS is the only recent program passed by Congress and signed into law that provides an infrastructure framework to address long-term services and care,” Page said. “If repealed, more than likely it would be another generation before such an initiative would come back. This would be reprehensible in light of the nation’s aging population: 70 percent of people over age 65 will require some type of LTC at some point during their lifetime; and about 40 percent of the individuals who need LTC are under age 65.”
The chronic need for and high cost of LTC is well-known among veterans advocacy groups; those who work with the aged and people with disabilities, such as stroke victims, and diseases, such as Alzheimer’s; and insurance companies, but there have been few solutions beyond purchasing LTC insurance, which can be prohibitively expensive. Repealing CLASS “will set the debate of how to fix our country’s long-term services and care needs backward,” Page said. “Paralyzed Veterans for years has been on the forefront seeking alternative methods to provide LTC for veterans and all people with disabilities or chronic conditions.”
Paralyzed Veterans will continue to fight for CLASS, Page said. “We call on the president to uphold his commitment to implement the CLASS Act because it was signed into law under the Affordable Care Act,” he said. In addition, the association is asking “Congress not to repeal the provision because the CLASS actuarial report established that it can still be designed to be a ‘value proposition,’ although development work was still needed.”
In addition to helping families and individuals, CLASS could help ease some of the nation’s economic woes by taking “some financial pressure off Medicaid at the state and federal levels,” he said.
“Every American family faces the reality that an accident or illness requiring long-term care could devastate them financially,” Page noted.
Read Paralyzed Veterans of America's Oct. 20, 2011, letter to President Obama