From the desk of ANCOR CEO Renee Pietrangelo:
ANCOR is deeply disappointed in the "Gang of Six" bipartisan deficit reduction plan that would eliminate the new Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program, which provides Americans a new option to address their future need for long-term services. We believe it is unwise and a mistake to insert policy disagreements in the context of deficit reduction when that enacted policy does not reduce the deficit, but instead adds to the deficit.
Repeal of the newly enacted CLASS program is a "no win" not only for the millions of Americans and their families who will face the future costly challenges of long-term services and supports, but for federal and state governments, providers, and taxpayers.
Let's look at the facts:
First, the CLASS program is not an entitlement but a voluntary long-term insurance program based on premiums paid by working individuals.
Second, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates are that CLASS will add $83 billion in federal revenue over the next ten years and will produce $2.2 billion in federal Medicaid savings over the same time period. The CBO estimates do not take in to account state Medicaid savings.
Third, the bipartisan plan calls for the $83 billion cost in lost revenues to be offset by cutting mandatory spending (for example, Medicaid and Medicare) under the jurisdiction of the Senate Finance Committee. So, in order to pay for cutting out the revenues generated by a voluntary premium-based, private long-term services insurance program that benefits individuals with disabilities of all ages and produces Medicaid savings, we would need to cut entitlement programs that help the same population.
It is also a fact that CLASS is favored by a majority of Americans as reported in a joint Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health poll finding that 76% of Americans support CLASS - including 69% of Republicans, 71% of Independents, and 87% of Democrats. AARP released a study this week that showed that one in four Americans provides care to another adult without compensation. Families bear this burden nobly, but this cannot be sustained as more Americans in the future will join the 12 million Americans who currently need long-term services and supports.
It is also a fact that ANCOR's providers of long-term services and supports throughout the nation are experiencing annual Medicaid cuts as states continue to struggle with their severe fiscal challenges. The cumulative effects of these annual cuts threaten the survival and mission of providers, as well as the jobs of well-trained direct support professionals.
ANCOR calls upon President Obama and the Congress to support the implementation of the CLASS program, which saves money and allows Americans to responsibly plan and pay for their future long-term services needs before it is too late. It's the sensible thing to do!