Posted on 17 October 2011
By Mark Miller
The federal government threw in the towel on creating a public option for long-term care coverage last week, and that would seem to be definitive for now. In defeat, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was doing the right thing in admitting the concept’s flaws and cutting the government’s losses of the proposal, which was a lesser-known component of the new health reform law. It was an attempt to expand the number of Americans with long-term care coverage by providing a basic, inexpensive LTC option deployed mainly through the workplace as an opt-out choice in benefit plans.
Republicans were overjoyed with the decision, obviously, since they have always seen CLASS as a budget trick to pump up the health law’s revenue and make the law seem less expensive than it is (CLASS had been projected to generated $86 billion in revenue in the early years from premium payments made by policy holders whose coverage had not yet vested).
But there is still the problem to solve about how we’ll care for our frail elderly in the years ahead, and it’s unclear what the path to a solution will be. After the shouting subsidies, we’re still left with an inadequate, patchwork system for funding long-term care in the U.S.
What’s next for long-term care? See my column today at Reuters Money.