The CLASS Act and Gerontological Social Work

(Citation: Barusch, Amanda S.(2010) ‘The CLASS Act and Gerontological Social Work’, Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 53: 7, 571 — 574.)

In a few years, those of us who are still working may have the opportunity to enroll for publicly managed long-term care insurance provided under the CLASS Act. Beyond that, CLASS will provide new roles and opportunities. Here’s a brief review of the Act’s provisions. You will also find excellent material in the latest issue of Public Policy and Aging Report (Edited by our own Rob Hudson).

The Community Living Assistance Services and Support (CLASS) Act is designed for the estimated 10 million Americans who need long-term care. CLASS goes into effect in 2011, and the Secretary of HHS has until 2012 to promulgate regulations that spell out the details. Once regulations are in place, those who work for participating employers will be automatically enrolled in publicly-managed long-term care insurance. Under current law, workers will be able to “opt out,” though that could change. (Adverse selection is a significant consideration here, and an individual mandate may be necessary to maintain the fiscal solvency of the program.)

Workers will be eligible to receive benefits should they become unable to perform two or more ADLS or develop an equivalent cognitive disability — after they have paid premiums for at least five years and been employed during three of those five years. The presenting impairment must be expected to last continuously for at least 90 days. There is no provision for coverage of non-working spouses.

CLASS benefits will be defined under the “CLASS Independence Benefit Plan.” The cash benefit, set to average not less than $50 per day, can be used to purchase non-medical services and supports necessary to remain in the home, such as compensation for family caregivers, respite care, and adult day care. Benefits may also be used to pay for institutional care. Benefit amounts will be based degree of impairment using a sliding scale with from two to six levels. Benefits will end if the recipient’s functional status improves. In addition to cash, the plan must deliver advocacy services and advice and assistance counseling (National Health Policy Forum, 2010).

The act clearly states that taxpayer funds may not be used to finance the benefit. Read more . . .

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