Topics: Obamacare

Fiscal cliff bill would ax provision of Obamacare

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Photo - Sen. John Barrasso, left, R-Wyo., talks with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, who holds up his watch, near the Senate chambers after a vote on the fiscal cliff, on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013 in Washington. The Senate passed legislation early New Year's Day to neutralize a fiscal cliff combination of across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts that kicked in at midnight. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Sen. John Barrasso, left, R-Wyo., talks with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, who holds up his watch, near the Senate chambers after a vote on the fiscal cliff, on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013 in Washington. The Senate passed legislation early New Year's Day to neutralize a fiscal cliff combination of across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts that kicked in at midnight. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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When the House considers the fiscal cliff bill passed by the Senate early New Year's Day, Republicans looking for reasons to support it will no doubt be encouraged by a provision that would strike down a costly piece of Obamacare.

The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, which was to be the Affordable Care Act's new entitlement for people who need long term medical care, never really got off the ground, mostly because it was unsustainable, but Democrats have long resisted its elimination.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius determined more than a year ago that the CLASS Act lacked "a viable path forward," and would thus have to be scrapped.

For many of its critics it was evident from the creation of the program that the CLASS Act would have trouble paying for itself because it would tend to attract only the unwell, thus making it impossible to keep premiums affordable and costs from exploding.

The Republican-run House last year passed a measure to repeal the program.

The White House, however, initially resisted repealing it, as did Democrats in the Senate, who blocked GOP efforts to eliminate the program.

But the Obama Administration eventually determined the CLASS Act was poised to become a financial disaster, citing 19 months of careful examination from experts "inside and outside government."

In an October 2011 letter to House Speaker, Sebelius announced there was no way to implement the program in a financially sustainable way, but warned the problem of long-term care was growing and its costs would take an increasing toll on taxpayers.

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