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Critical Condition

NRO’s health-care blog.

CLASS Is Out



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Obamacare is collapsing. The latest example is last week’s brouhaha over the maybe-it’s-closing, maybe-it’s-not office that is tasked with implementing the CLASS Act.

It has been clear from the beginning that the CLASS program was a sham. It was dubbed so by Sen. Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota: “A Ponzi scheme of the first order, the kind of thing that Bernie Madoff would have been proud of.” HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius admitted to Congress this year the program is “totally unsustainable.”

CLASS is a brand new entitlement program to provide government-run long-term care insurance. It played an important role in the fictional accounting of Obamacare, since it starts collecting money five years before any benefits are paid.

Bob Yee, the actuary charged with the impossible task of making the program work, sent out a clearly unauthorized e-mail last week telling colleagues his office was closing.

The White House denied it, but a Senate Appropriations Committee staffer earlier had told reporters that the administration had asked Senate Democrats not to provide any funding for the long-term care program offices for the next fiscal year.

So while Yee says he’s been relieved of his duties and everyone else in the office has been reassigned, HHS still insists that “reports that the CLASS office is closing are not accurate.” Yet there’s no money to run the office.

Connie Garner, a former staffer to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and architect of the CLASS Act, pointed out that the program was created by law, and that the administration can’t just terminate it.

That’s especially true since CLASS was being milked to provide $70 billion toward the up-front cost of Obamacare.

So where is the money going to come from to make up the difference? Good riddance to this program, but Congress still needs to ask the question.



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