House Committee OKs Bill To Repeal Reform Law’s CLASS Program
On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted 33-17 to approve a bill (HR 1173) that would repeal the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act created by the federal health reform law, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
The decision could set up a possible vote by the full House before the end of the year (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 11/30).
Many Democrats have criticized Republicans for attempting to repeal the program without offering an alternative (California Healthline, 10/25).
Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said, "Today's cruel vote would eliminate hope that seniors and people with disabilities will get access to the long-term care they need." He added, "The CLASS Act may not be perfect, but it's critical that we find another way to provide long-term care to the 21 million Americans who need it before we repeal this law" (Attais, CQ Today, 11/30).
Still, three Democrats -- Reps. Mike Ross (Ark), Jim Matheson (Utah) and John Barrow (Ga.) -- voted for the measure (Winfield Cunningham, Washington Times, 11/30).
Republicans have said the Obama administration's decision to suspend implementation of the long-term health care program is insufficient and that it should formally be repealed (California Healthline, 10/25).
On Wednesday, Republicans cited a recent Congressional Research Service memo noting that the federal health reform law mandates that the HHS secretary must designate a benefit plan for the CLASS program by Oct. 1, 2012. If HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius fails to do so, she "would appear to be committing a facial violation of the statutory requirement to designate such a plan," the memo states ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 11/30).
A spokesperson for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said he hopes to bring the bill to the floor in the next two weeks or in early 2012. The bill likely would pass in the GOP-controlled House but would face hurdles in the Democratic-led Senate (CQ Today, 11/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.