Federal officials recently stopped plans to implement the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program. This government-run long-term care insurance model has been the subject of an intense evaluation by Health and Human Services (HHS) since the health care law passed in 2010. But after numerous studies and redesign plans, the CLASS program was deemed fiscally unsound.
HHS heeded warnings by the actuary for Medicare and Medicaid that the program was likely to be insolvent, which would cause premiums to rise for individuals who sign up for the program. As the costs increased, the projected $50 a day benefit would not have been enough to attract healthy, young people to pay for the long-term care program. After much debate, CLASS could not be proven to “…be self-sustaining, financially sound for 75 years, or affordable to consumers.”
Though CLASS has been cut, the rest of the 2010 health care act remains in place, albeit under much scrutiny and debate given political and economic climate. The major provisions of the health law are slated to go into effect in 2014, including insurance exchanges and Medicaid expansion, barring any modifications between now and then.
“By 2020, we know that an estimated 15 million Americans will need some kind of long-term care,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “If we want our family members, friends, and neighbors to be able to live with the maximum amount of freedom and independence, we need to make sure they have access to the long-term supports that make that possible.”
At this time, the best long-term support is a skilled elder law attorney to assist with long-term care planning and asset protection. The federal government has proven itself unable and unwilling to address long-term care in a meaningful way. With average nursing home costs approaching $4,500 per month, a life savings can be quickly depleted. Further, the majority of Americans are unaware that Medicare covers only short-term rehabilitation.
A free initial case evaluation and consultation with an estate planning and elder law attorney can uncover how one’s assets and income can be legally repositioned to obtain long-term care Medicaid benefits and keep a life’s legacy intact.