CLASS program officially suspended
Posted: October, 2011
At some point in our lives, seven out of ten Americans will need daily help because of a disability. It could be nursing home care in the final months of our lives. Or it could be a home health aide who comes by a few hours a week to help with daily tasks, giving us the freedom to live and work in our community for years.
As time goes by, even more of us will require these kinds of long-term services and supports in order to live our lives as we wish to live them. But under the status quo, many of us will struggle to pay for this care -- if we can afford it at all.
Many Americans assume that Medicare will pick up the bill for their long-term care, but it only pays for brief nursing home stays. Medicaid offers broader coverage, but many families aren't eligible until their savings are virtually exhausted. Meanwhile, the private market covers less than three percent of Americans. And at $75,000 a year for a nursing home and $18,000 a year for home health care, most families cannot afford to pay out of pocket.
It was with the hope of giving Americans better choices that Congress included a voluntary long-term care insurance program called CLASS in last year's health care law. The idea behind CLASS, which was championed by the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, is simple: workers could sign up and pay a monthly premium, and in return, they would be eligible after a number of years for a daily benefit administered by our department that could help pay for long-term care services should they become necessary.