Washington, DC – The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted today to repeal the portion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that would set up a long-term care program for millions of seniors and people of all ages with disabilities who will need help paying for the daily at-home care they require to live independently. For those who need care and can’t afford it, the existing system pushes them into nursing homes at taxpayers’ expense. The repeal effort is designed to perpetuate that system, which is financed mostly by Medicaid – even as states are struggling to maintain the Medicaid funding they already have.
Nearly one-third of Medicaid spending goes to long-term care. The ACA includes a provision called the CLASS Act that was an attempt to create a new way for people to plan for future expenses and finance the in-home assistance they will need, such as hiring a home caregiver to help with tasks of daily living without requiring families to impoverish themselves to qualify for Medicaid. The repeal effort is purely political because implementation of the program has not been scheduled.
Here is a statement from Ethan Rome, executive director of Health Care for America Now, the nation’s leading grassroots health care advocacy organization, on today’s action by House Republicans:
“Once again, the Republicans are punishing the American people in an attempt to hurt President Obama politically, even if that means repealing the only health reform provision that could someday help seniors and people with disabilities live independently and stay out of nursing homes. The CLASS Act may not be ready for implementation yet, but the Republicans showed that they will never help seniors live with dignity and independence. The GOP will never provide relief to America’s middle-class families struggling with the overwhelming financial challenges of caring for their aging parents. If the Republicans would put politics aside, Congress could create a financially stable and fair structure for long-term care.
“As Republicans across the country step up their efforts to cut state and federal Medicaid budgets in their permanent war against the middle class, experts agree that the nation must devise a long-term care plan. It’s simple math: while two-thirds of the population is likely to need long-term care, few seniors can independently afford the staggering private cost of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. Half of retirees have less than $55,000 in assets, and nursing homes charge about $75,000 each year.
“It is irresponsible for the Republicans to pretend that the long-term care problem will just go away simply because they ignore it. It’s painfully clear that Speaker John Boehner and other GOP leaders are as callous as they are hyper-partisan.”
Health Care for America Now is the nation’s leading grassroots health care advocacy organization. HCAN led the fight to win passage of health reform and to keep Congress from being steamrolled by corporate special interests.