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House votes to repeal CLASS Act

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Philip Klein

By a 267 to 159 margin, the House of Representatives voted to repeal a component of Obamacare that the administration itself has determined is unworkable. The vote was bipartisan, with at least 28 Democrats joining Republicans in supporting repeal.

The brainchild of the late Ted Kennedy, the CLASS Act became a new long-term care entitlement within President Obama’s national health care law and served as one of the law’s chief accounting gimmicks. Because the CLASS Act was supposed to collect five years of premiums before paying out any benefits, the Democrats were able to claim a short-term surplus from the program as deficit reduction, ignoring the obvious fact that the money would eventually have to pay for benefits. It accounted for half of the health care law’s claimed deficit reduction.

Last October, the Department of Health and Human Services determined that it couldn’t implement the program as designed, but it officially remains on the books, so Republicans began the process of repealing it. Now, that effort moves on to the Senate.

This morning, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., took to the floor to call on Obama to back repealing the law. Senate Republicans will push for a repeal vote, according to a Senate GOP source.

Senate Republicans also issued a release this morning highlighting many of the Democrats who have spoken out against the CLASS Act in the past. The most notable is Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad, D-N.D., who called it “A Ponzi scheme of the first order, the kind of thing that Bernie Madoff would have been proud of,” two months before he voted for it."

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