Tuesday, January 5, 2010

CLASS Act (Community Living Assistance Services & Supports)

from Wider Opportunities for Women, our national partner

The CLASS Act aims to provide long-term care services and supports for older adults and persons with disabilities. It was originally introduced by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy and passed in the House under the Affordable Health Choices Act (H.R. 3200). There have been numerous attempts to kill off the CLASS Act. However, it was also recently included in the Senate Health, Educational, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee bill. President Obama supports the inclusion of the CLASS Act in health care reform.

Under this act, community-based and long-term care services and supports would be more affordable and accessible to today's workers and future retirees. It would establish a national insurance program financed by voluntary payroll deductions. Workers have an opt-out option. Those who are eligible would be entitled to an allotted benefit ($50-75 per day) to cover low and medium level of home and community-based long-term services. These benefits would enable over 10 million Americans to have access to much-needed long-term care services. From the Elder Economic Security Index (Elder Index), we learned that home and community-based long-term care can double or triple an elder's overall expenses, forcing elders to spend-down their assets into poverty. The CLASS act would enable elders to receive the long-term care and supports that enable them to age with dignity.

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