This morning, AARP submitted a statement to the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee as it considers implementation of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program. CLASS is a voluntary long-term care insurance program that would offer eligible individuals a cash benefit that could be used toward paying for services and supports such as home care, accessible transportation, and respite care for family caregivers. The program enjoyed bipartisan support in the Energy and Commerce Committee in the last Congress and Congressional Budget Office estimates show the provisions can help take some of the burden off the Medicaid program.
Excerpts of AARP's statement follow:
"AARP continues to be a strong supporter of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Program. This voluntary long-term care insurance program has the potential to help millions of Americans pay for long-term services and supports (LTSS) that enable them to live in their homes and communities. We've surveyed our members and we know that 86 percent want to stay in their homes for as long as possible, and yet too few are able to get the services they need to continue living independently.
"...Repealing CLASS or stopping its implementation would take away a choice - that would otherwise be available to many Americans - to help them take responsibility to plan and pay for the services they need rather than rely on public funding through the Medicaid program.
"The CLASS Program can help reduce Medicaid expenditures over time. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated about $2 billion in federal savings to Medicaid due to CLASS, and this was just in the first few years of CLASS paying benefits. This figure does not include the savings that would also accrue to states, given the state share of Medicaid spending.
"CLASS would also help support family caregivers who are caring for their loved ones. ...Family caregivers provide the bulk of [long-term services and supports] in this country. In doing so, family caregivers can face physical, emotional, mental, and financial challenges. CLASS benefits could help pay for respite care or adult day care, for example, that could allow a family caregiver a temporary break in their caregiving responsibilities to take care of their own needs or to work in paid employment.
"CLASS has the potential to help millions of Americans pay for the support they need to live at home, but it is not for everyone, such as individuals who are retired and not returning to the workforce, as they would not meet the work requirement in CLASS. AARP is committed to giving our members and all Americans the information they need in the coming months and years to decide if CLASS is right for them."
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with nearly 35 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For more information, visit www.aarp.org