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Concord Coalition Warns That New Entitlement Is Not a Valid Health Care Reform Offset
Date:10/7/2009

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As House and Senate leaders negotiate the final details of their respective health care reforms bills, The Concord Coalition warned today that one provision under consideration, the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, is structurally unsound and fiscally irresponsible. Moreover, the long-term cost of this new entitlement, which could be substantial, is hidden by the fact that it appears to produce a short-term windfall.

"The CLASS Act is a well-intentioned effort to create a voluntary public insurance program for community living assistance and long-term care benefits. However, as currently structured, premiums would likely be either too high to attract a sufficient risk pool or not high enough to pay for the program on a sustainable basis. This sets up a classic 'death spiral' of adverse selection, as necessary premium increases would make the program even less attractive for younger, healthier workers. As more people drop out, premiums would have to go even higher. There is a clear danger that large infusions of general revenues would ultimately be used to keep the program going. With health care spending already on an unsustainable track, the last thing Congress should do is create a new entitlement that would put further strain on the budget," said Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert Bixby.

The Concord Coalition said that despite warnings about the long-term stability and fiscal consequences of the CLASS Act, congressional leaders will be tempted to include it in their health care reform legislation because it 'scores' as an offset to new spending over the next 10 years. This is the result of dubious pre-funding through a new government trust fund that would collect premiums for the first five years before any benefits were paid. In one estimate, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that the CLASS Act would generate an excess cash fl
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SOURCE The Concord Coalition
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