Calling Ghost Hunters

Oct 17, 2011

Last week, CLASS was determined to be unworkable because of its unsustainable financial structure, declared by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to be a "budget gimmick," and supposedly shut down by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Full repeal of the program seems to be a good idea.

The Congressional Budget Office added credence to that idea by determining that repeal of CLASS will have "no budgetary impact." According to Avik Roy of the Manhattan Institute, "This clears the way for a repeal of the CLASS Act, since no offsets will be necessary to compensate for the elimination of CLASS’s mythical $86 billion of deficit reduction."

Yet, the peculiarity of CLASS continues because the administration has threatened to veto legislation to repeal it. Even stranger, The Hill reported this:

Over the weekend, The Hill has learned, an administration official called CLASS Act advocates to reassure them that Obama is still committed to making the program work. That official also told advocates that widespread media reports on the program's demise were wrong, leaving advocates scratching their heads.

If you're confused, then join the crowd. We're back to wondering "Does CLASS still exist?"

As we ponder that, let's remember that CLASS is a small part of a bigger issue – rising health care costs.

There are people like Jonathon Cohn at The New Republic who think CLASS' "problem" is it doesn't have a mandate. "In other words, if long-term care insurance were subject to an individual mandate, old and sick people would not have been the only people enrolling," he writes. More mandates and government control of health care? That’s exactly the wrong approach.

As this story unfolds, we’ve learned that CLASS isn't a zombie as much as it's a ghost. It appears, then disappears, only to reappear again. Congress can fix this paranormal activity by repealing CLASS along with the rest of the health care law and work to enact health care reform that tames rising costs while expanding access to affordable care.

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