Healthcare Business News
Charles Boustany

House panel votes to repeal CLASS Act

By Jessica Zigmond
Posted: January 18, 2012 - 2:45 pm ET

House Republicans moved closer to eliminating a program in the healthcare reform law when the House Ways and Means Committee approved legislation to repeal the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act.

Members of the powerful panel that makes tax law—and which has jurisdiction over the Medicare program—voted 23 to 13 to support the Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act of 2011 (PDF), a bill from Rep. Dr. Charles Boustany (R-La.) that would repeal the CLASS Act, the voluntary, long-term care insurance program that HHS suspended last fall. Before the holiday break, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved Boustany's bill in a 33-17 vote. Now that the legislation has cleared these committees, it will advance to the House floor for consideration. No timeline has been given for the lower chamber's vote, but Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), a physician, said after Wednesday's committee meeting that he thinks it will happen this quarter.

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“Because of the changing demographics of our society—the fact that folks are living much longer and the chronic diseases are being able to be handled from a medical standpoint much longer—then long-term care is obviously in more people's future than ever in the past,” Price said in a brief interview. “And I believe the goal is to make it so that individual patients and their physicians and their healthcare providers are the ones that are determining the best route for long-term care, as opposed to folks here in Washington,” he said, adding that the federal government ought to put in place a “construct for options are available out there—but it ought to be an array of options.”

Boustany, who introduced his bill last March, said he is still working on a replacement bill for the CLASS Act, but that the first goal should be to repeal CLASS. The Joint Committee on Taxation (PDF)—a nonpartisan committee of the Congress—reported that Boustany's bill has no budgetary effect relative to present law and enacting it would have no impact on federal revenues.

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