HHS drops controversial long-term care program

The Obama administration has given up on a controversial long-term care insurance program called the CLASS Act, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on Friday.

Sebelius told Congress she did not see a way forward for the program, which Senate appropriators had cut off funding for in September. Republicans have strongly opposed the program.

"...despite our best analytical efforts, I do not see a viable path forward for CLASS implementation at this time," Sebelius wrote.

The controversial insurance program, established under the 2010 health reform law, had been on indefinite hiatus. Staff at the CLASS office within HHS were reassigned last month. Senate Democrats removed all funding for CLASS in the Labor-Health and Human Services 2012 spending bill because program "implementation has been delayed." The program was originally intended to start collecting premiums in October 2012.

Sebelius has said changing the income and premium levels, among other items, set in the health care law to make the program solvent are potential fixes. But critics say the department would need legislation to make those changes.

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