Legislators Grill HHS Officials Over Decision Not To Implement CLASS Act.


The Hill (10/27, Baker) reports in its "Healthwatch" blog, "Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) clashed with Health and Human Services (HHS) officials" yesterday at a joint hearing of two subcommittees over the "decision not to implement the healthcare law’s CLASS program." Pallone did not dispute the report which found financial problems with the program, but said he thought work should continue. HHS Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee "testified that repeal ‘would not serve a helpful purpose’ and said HHS wants to work on a new approach to providing coverage for long-term care."

        The Washington Times (10/27, Cunningham) reports that "Democrats are digging in their heels over" the CLASS Act. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) is quoted as saying HHS Secretary Sebelius’ decision not to implement the program was "the responsible thing to do fiscally and otherwise," but added that "calling for a time out is not the equivalent of throwing in the towel, as Republicans would have the public believe." The Times also quotes Rep. Pallone’s comments supporting the program’s implementation. Republicans, meanwhile, "grilled Ms. Greenlee and Sherry Glied, assistant secretary for planning and evaluation on when they knew CLASS was untenable." Greenlee is quoted as saying, "It took some time for us to put those models together."

Modern Healthcare (10/27, Zigmond) reports that not only did Pallone "flatly disagree with HHS’ decision" to suspend implementation of CLASS, "he also pressed Kathy Greenlee…for the administration to appoint the 15-member advisory council of stakeholders to CLASS that the law requires." Greenlee responded, "I do not want to send a mixed message by saying we’re continuing to work on CLASS when we’re not. We do want to engage stakeholders." The article notes that she later added "that she would discuss Pallone’s concerns with Sebelius."

CQ Healthbeat (10/27, Norman) focuses much of its reporting on Pallone’s comments, noting that he "said that a former HHS actuary, Bob Yee, has developed options for CLASS that address potential problems, such as adverse selection." CQ also notes Greenlee’s responses to some of Pallone’s questions.

Matheson Breaks From Democrats, Calls For Repealing CLASS Act. The Hill (10/27, Baker) reports in its "Healthwatch" blog, "Rep. Jim Matheson (Utah) on Wednesday became the first Democrat to publicly support repealing the healthcare reform law’s CLASS program." Matheson said in announcing his decision, "Repeal of the CLASS Act is the right decision and Congress should be considering real common-sense reforms that lower health care costs and allow greater access to quality care." The Hill notes that Matheson "opposed the healthcare reform law, but he also voted against Republicans’