ObamaCare, the CLASS Act and the Insurance Mandate

October 17th, 2011

By Dan Miller

ObamaCareThe Community Living Assistance Services and Supports law (a.k.a. CLASS Act), claiming to provide long term care for us old geezers without burdening the country’s budget, unraveled last week and the Obama Administration put it into suspended animation announcing in a Friday news dump that it would not work financially. President Obama, however, has announced, bravely, that he will probably veto legislation to kill it.

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

The New Republic today stopped scratching its head and opined,

The official budget estimates for CLASS suggested it would save money in the first ten years, accounting for about half of the deficit reduction that the Affordable Care Act was supposed to yield during that time. But the estimates for CLASS were never that reliable. More important, after those first ten years, CLASS was likely to pay out more in benefits than it collected as premiums. For these reasons, conservatives like Peter Suderman who criticized CLASS as unsustainable were right to raise alarms, while liberals like me were wrong to ignore them.

However, The New Republic added this profound wisdom for our use:

But does that mean the Affordable Care Act as a whole is full of gimmicks? Does it prove, as Thune and others have suggested, that Obamacare is fatally flawed? Hardly. If anything, it strengthens the case for the rest of the law, starting with the provision that conservatives claim to hate most: The individual mandate.

Here’s why:

The architects of the Affordable Care Act, in particular the late Senator Ted Kennedy, understood all of this, including the actuarial realities. But making long-term care insurance a mandatory part of the Affordable Care Act would have made the health care reform bill even more complicated and, potentially, controversial. So the law’s sponsors decided to make the program voluntary — and called it the Community Living Assistance Service and Supports (CLASS) Act.

And, therefore, the only way for the rest of ObamaCare to survive and to revive the CLASS Act is to keep mandatory insurance coverage as that law already provides and to extend the mandate to care for us old geezers.  Does anyone else remember this BBC series?

As I argued here, a holding that the ObamaCare insurance mandate, and only the mandate, is unconstitutional because it is beyond congressional power under the Commerce Clause, is the most likely outcome when the fate of that monstrosity is decided by the Supreme Court — probably well before the election next year.  Such a decision will seal in its coffin whatever of ObamaCare the Obama Administration may try to resuscitate. It will also make Candidate Obama squirm as he tries to explain — as he must –  how ObamaCare can be viable without the individual mandate. The suspension of CLASS will make it even more fun.

Oh well. We need some fun.

(This article was first published at The PJ Tatler.)


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