Press Releases

Apr 19 2011

Call on Sebelius to Provide Key CLASS Act Documents

--Administration has yet to provide long-term care entitlement program models--

    WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, today sent a letter to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius calling on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide key documents regarding the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act that were drafted prior to the passage of the new health care law. Secretary Sebelius agreed to provide any premium, participation, or actuarial models to Congressional leaders at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on March 16, 2011, but has yet to provide such documents.

Thune was joined in his request to HHS by ranking Republican member of the Senate Finance Committee, Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), ranking Republican member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), and ranking Republican member of the Senate Budget Committee, Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).

In their letter, the Senators express, “serious concerns that the full financial implications of the CLASS Act, including actuarial models addressing the long-term solvency of the program, were not shared with Members of Congress and their staff prior to enactment of the law.”

The full text of the letter is included below.

April 19, 2011

The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius
Secretary of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Ave, SW
Washington, D.C. 20201

Dear Secretary Sebelius,

We write to request that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provide Congressional Members of committees with jurisdiction with any premium, participation, or actuarial models for the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act that were conducted prior to the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as agreed to during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on March 16, 2011.

At the hearing, you testified that during the course of the legislative process you had some concerns about the threshold levels for eligibility that are in the bill and that these concerns were not corrected through the amendment process by Congress. Additionally, at a briefing for congressional staff, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Richard Frank stated that the HHS Department for Planning and Evaluation had conducted its first actuarial models of the bill before the law was enacted. This has led us to conclude that HHS did indeed conduct some type of actuarial modeling prior to the law’s passage.

We have serious concerns that the full financial implications of the CLASS Act, including actuarial models addressing the long-term solvency of the program, were not shared with Members of Congress and their staff prior to enactment of the law. During testimony on March 30, 2011, before the Senate Labor-HHS Subcommittee on Appropriations, you said, “If, indeed, only the disabled community enrolls, this program is immediately insolvent in a fiscal manner, because there won’t be enough income to pay for the benefits.” We agree with your comments and believe they highlight the fact that any pre-law modeling on participation was de facto actuarial modeling that produced information on long term solvency.

To date, no models from the Department for Planning and Evaluation have been shared with the relevant Congressional committees with jurisdiction over this program. These models are important in the evaluation of the federal budget, as well as of the solvency and sustainability of the CLASS program. This is particularly important in light of the President's recent speech on entitlement reform. In order gain a better understanding of the current implementation process, the actuarial models HHS is using, and the three actuarial models required to be prepared pursuant to the law, we request that your department provide Members of Congress with jurisdiction over the CLASS Act with any and all models developed to evaluate the program by Friday, April 29, 2011.

Sincerely,

Senator Orrin Hatch
Senator John Thune
Senator Mike Enzi
Senator Jeff Sessions