The new tax law passed by Congress on January 1st, the American Tax Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA), includes a provision that repeals a long-term care insurance program that had been included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare, that would have helped keep the elderly and disabled purchase long term care insurance even with pre-existing conditions. Instead, ATRA establishes a commission to come up with an alternative plan to make long-term care available for those who need it.
The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act, abbreviated as CLASS, was part of Obama’s health care reform bill and would have established a voluntary national long-term care insurance program. An optional program, employees who wished to participate would have paid into it with payroll deductions and would have received a modest daily benefit if they required long-term care.
Due to strong Republican opposition to Obamacare, the Obama administration shelved implementation of the CLASS Act in 2011 to focus on preserving the core of the ACA.
From various reports, the repeal of the CLASS Act was one of the “sweeteners” thrown in to attract votes.
in place of CLASS, ATRA establishes a 15-member Commission on Long-Term Care that is to recommend legislation. The Commission is to be a bipartisan body consisting of members to be appointed by the President and congressional leaders. Members will represent the interests of the elderly, consumers of long-term care services, family caregivers, private long-term care insurance providers and employers, among others.