The Obama administration’s healthcare reform law sought to be comprehensive in scope, but still has not managed to address a growing problem: meeting the aging population’s long-term care needs.
A long-term care provision was included in the Affordable Care Act by way of the CLASS Act (Community Living Assistance Services and Supports). However, the program encountered difficulty sorting through legal issues, solvency problems, and rising healthcare costs, says the Colorado Springs Business Journal, which ultimately led to its being “shelved” and put on hold indefinitely.
At the time, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, admitted they had “not identified a way to make CLASS work.”
The Colorado Springs Business Journal reports:
It’s something the Obama administration doesn’t want to talk about, and its official stance is that the program is only on hold for the next three to five years.
It’s not surprising, said Steve Berkshire, director of the doctorate of health care policy program at Central Michigan University.
“Long-term care is expensive,” he said. “The program’s in jeopardy because it won’t cover costs.”
Despite the failure of CLASS, the federal government isn’t moving to address the issue further, he said.
“It’s hard to know how to address it,” he said. “There are programs, things like wellness or preventive care, that will keep people at home longer and keep people healthier. But for those who need long- term care — it remains a problem.”
The failure to implement the public insurance program leaves only a few other options for families who don’t have long-term care insurance.
Medicaid is the option that most families are forced to use, because long-term care is so expensive. Unless there are millions in the bank, Medicaid is the option, Stoll says. And thanks to the ACA, the state and federal government program now offers some help for people who want to stay at home as long as possible.
However, at the end of the day, Americans need something “more viable than Medicaid,” says Kathleen Stoll, deputy executive director at nonprofit industry group Families USA, in the CSBJ article. “We only have partial solutions now.”
Written by Alyssa Gerace