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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

CLASS Act Repealed through Fiscal Cliff Deal; Long-Term Care Commission Created As Compromise

Yes to the CLASS Act 2010 protest signAt 2:00 a.m. this Tuesday, the Senate passed legislation to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” provisions of the 2011 Budget Control Act that were meant to incentivize compromise between the parties on taxation and spending cuts. After several dramatic twists, the House also approved the deal by a vote of 257 to 167.

The compromise that was reached (and passed) repealed the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act and creates a commission to study and make recommendations on improving long-term services and supports for people with disabilities nationally.

Earlier this year, the CLASS Act, which would have created a voluntary long-term care insurance program, was temporarily shelved by the Administration, which cited funding issues as a major concern for long-term implementation. The CLASS Act, an initiative championed by the late Senator Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy, was a hot button issue for Republicans during Affordable Care Act negotiations and had until now survived an onslaught of lobbying activity from the insurance industry. 

Advance CLASS, a group of organizations (including NCIL) that support the CLASS Act, released a statement Wednesday that read, in part

“Advance CLASS and its member organizations are extremely disappointed that Congress and the Administration chose to remove the CLASS Act from law. However, we are grateful to Senator Rockefeller for intervening, and hopefully, the bipartisan Commission he argued to establish in its place will work quickly and aggressively to propose a plan that holds true to the core principles of the CLASS Act: broad participation, supporting personal responsibility, and flexibility in choice of long-term services and supports.”

The Long-Term Care Commission, proposed by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), will consist of a panel of 15 members appointed by the White House and leaders from both parties in both Houses of Congress. Its goal is to

“develop a plan for the establishment, implementation, and financing of a comprehensive, coordinated, and high-quality system that ensures the availability of long-term services and supports for individuals in need of such services and supports… and individuals desiring to plan for future long-term care needs.”

Panel members are to reflect the interests of recipients of care, their caregivers, providers, care workers, long-term care insurance companies, and state Medicaid officials. (Forbes.com)

Panel appointees are expected to be selected within the next 30 days and will be tasked with presenting a plan for long-term care to the White House and Congress within six months after convening.

ADAPT released a statement Thursday calling on the disability community to identify people who would be good additions to the Commission and the White House to appoint a commission that will finally look seriously at ending the institutional bias in America!

The various “stakeholders” identified for the Commission all have their own interests.  That’s part of the reason it has taken so long to change the system.  We need members of the Commission who will support the disability community’s efforts to change the system so that seniors and people with disabilities are able to live in the community – rather than be forced into institutions.  We need people to serve on this Commission who understand that having control over your life includes being able to decide who touches your body, when they assist you and how they do it.  We need people on this Commission who value our first-hand knowledge of the system and have a history of working in partnership with the disability community and our disability-led organizations.

ADAPT urges the disability community to review the list of groups that need to be represented on the Commission and identify strong allies of our community who could be appointed.  We also call on the President and leaders of Congress to work with ADAPT and the disability community to appoint a Commission that will address these critical issues and finally FREE OUR PEOPLE!

The Commission will not be formally connected to any Department within the Administration, and the legislation that creates it does not include a requirement that Congress vote on the panel’s recommendations.

NCIL will continue to monitor developments on the Commission and advocate for improved access to long-term care and community integration and participation for all Americans with disabilities.

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