Why Does The Gang Of Six Want To Repeal The CLASS Act?
by Howard Gleckman
Jul. 20 2011 - 8:23 PM
The bipartisan deficit reduction plan proposed by the so-called “gang of six” Democratic and Republican senators would repeal the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act. CLASS, a national, voluntary long-term care insurance program, was included as part of the 2010 health law. The new budget plan, which President Obama called a “very significant step,” also proposed large but unspecified cuts in Medicaid as well as other unidentified reductions in non-Medicaid social service programs.
The combination of cuts in Medicaid and repeal of CLASS threatens to put millions of families in financial and physical jeopardy. Today, more than 40 percent of all long-term care is funded by Medicaid, the joint federal/state health program that is itself under tremendous financial stress. Only about 7 million Americans own long-term care insurance, which is both costly and often unavailable to those with pre-existing medical conditions. While CLASS is deeply flawed and needs to be reformed, it is an opportunity to transform long-term care from the means-tested Medicaid program to a public insurance-based system, much like Medigap insurance or Medicare Part D drug coverage.
CLASS has been a target of both Republican and Democratic deficit hawks since it was enacted, largely because they feared it would fail as an insurance program and eventually have to be bailed out by taxpayers. They also objected to budget accounting rules that made it seem as if CLASS was generating about $78 billion in new revenues that would be available to pay for health reform require long-term care services, either at home or in a nursing facility. By mid-century, twice as many will require this assistance.
After having read this article I was forced to begin to address what we all will certainly face, the end of life and living.
As I contemplated the importance of drafting a Living Will and naming one of my family members to make the last decision I’ll ever make as a living being for me, I bristled. I decided I’d much prefer to make that decision for myself.
Neither could I bear the thought of my only living daughter having to pull the plug on her mother, nor my only sister. No. This is not something I haven’t thought about before. I have. As a cancer survivor, I’ve already decided, should it recur, I don’t want to submit to chemotherapy or more radiation.
What’s becoming clear from the article above is what with the paradigm shift in social consciousness, ie: the cuts to Medicare and to Medicaid, which I would depend upon for any extended care in a nursing facility the door seems to be closing on that. (Please do read the entire article.)
So then, for many of us of a certain age and with limited resources
some planning would seem to be in order.
How far would you go to sustain the life of someone you love, or your own? When the moment comes, and you're confronted with the prospect of "pulling the plug," do you know how you'll respond?
In Facing Death, FRONTLINE gains extraordinary access to The Mount Sinai Medical Center, one of New York's biggest hospitals, to take a closer measure of today's complicated end-of-life decisions. In this intimate, groundbreaking film, doctors, patients and families speak with remarkable candor about the increasingly difficult choices people are making at the end of life: when to remove a breathing tube in the ICU; when to continue treatment for patients with aggressive blood cancers; when to perform a surgery; and when to call for hospice.
This is an important film. It helped me in that it only strengthened what I’d already known about how I didn’t want to die. My hope is it may help you sort thorough similar concerns.
What used to be The Hemlock Society is now known as Compassion & Choices, Choice & Care at the End of Life
Here is a link to the latest information on a state by state basis as to how the laws are changing to allow physicians to assist in end of life issues.
For some, the idea of a physician assisted death would be unthinkable, for me it would beat the alternatives.