Lipinski Votes to Repeal Fiscally Unsustainable CLASS Program, Urges Bipartisan Approach to Providing Affordable Long-Term Care (February 1, 2012

On Wednesday, Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) voted to repeal a portion of the health care law known as the CLASS Act, which experts agree is financially unsound and would add significantly to the national debt over the long term. Rep. Lipinski was the first Democrat to cosponsor the bill to repeal CLASS – the Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act, H.R. 1173.

"The simple reality is that the CLASS program cannot be made to work," Congressman Lipinski said. "The only option in the context of today’s budget difficulties is to end the program now and prevent taxpayers from having to pay for a massive bailout later on. Unfortunately, the debate on the House floor today simply rehashed partisan talking points that get us nowhere. It was yet another example of why Congress is so unpopular. Given that everyone agrees this program will not work, we should stop the pointless quarreling and instead focus on finding a way to create a self-sustaining program to help provide affordable long-term care. The American people want to see Congress focus on solutions, not perpetuate conflicts that only produce gridlock."?

The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act created a well-intentioned but fatally flawed long-term care insurance program. Though the program was required by law to pay for itself, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the CLASS Act would add at least tens of billions of dollars to the federal deficit every decade after 20 years. The Chief Actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found it was primed to enter an "insurance death spiral," with too many sick individuals and too few healthy individuals paying premiums, resulting in expenditures that vastly exceed revenues. Though Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius conceded that the program was "totally unsustainable" last year and announced in October it would not be implemented, the CLASS Act remains in law. To ensure it does not move forward and cost taxpayers countless billions of dollars, it must be repealed.

"Going forward, I will continue working to make much-needed changes to the health care law to provide the reform American families need without adding to the national debt," Rep. Lipinski said. "That includes supporting efforts to find fiscally sustainable methods for addressing the unquestionable need for affordable long-term care. There is no doubt that long-term care can be a crushing burden for seniors and middle-class families. Finding an effective solution will require bipartisanship and a willingness by both sides to work together rather than seek ways to score political points."

As part of his commitment to help fix the numerous problems with the health care law, Rep. Lipinski previously voted to eliminate an expensive and burdensome tax-reporting requirement for small businesses that was part of the law.