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July 10, 2007
Contact: Paul Williams, 703/894-1805, ext. 242 or pwilliams@alfa.org
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Alexandria,
VA — The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee
today held a hearing titled “Community Services and Supports: Planning
Across Generations.” Led by Senators Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.),
Chairman of the HELP Committee and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Ranking Member
of the HELP Committee, this public hearing coincided with the
reintroduction of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports
Act (CLASS Act).

The CLASS Act intends to provide a system for
consumers who need assistance with activities of daily living to
receive the financial support they need to remain independent and
living in the home and community based settings, such as assisted
living. Through a voluntary payroll deduction program, consumers would
be able to plan for their future long term care needs.

“Our
current system forces people into institutions prematurely and fails to
provide realistic opportunities for personal life planning,” said
Kennedy. “Senator Harkin and I have two pieces of legislation that
together can improve the Medicare system by allowing more individual
choice and create a new voluntary national insurance program that will
promote independence, choice, personal responsibility and quality
services for those who need it.”

“Less costly, community-based
services and supports are being actively pursued and funded, thanks to
provisions of the Older Americans Act that we passed last year,” Enzi
said. “The programs place an emphasis on empowering persons with
disabilities, older people, their families and other consumers to make
informed decisions about long-term care options, and to access these
services easily.”

ALFA will continue to work with Senator
Kennedy’s office and the HELP Committee as the bill moves through the
legislative process.

Core Principles of the CLASS Act

  1. Pooled
    Risk – Make paying for long-term services and supports affordable
    through pooling the risk for all workers and their spouses
  2. Voluntary
    Opt-Out – Give people the choice whether to participate but make it as
    convenient as possible through an automatic payroll deduction.
  3. Consumer Choice – Allow people with functional limitations to control what services they get, how, where and from whom.
  4. Universality
    – Create a program that allows all working people, including people
    with disabilities and those near retirement, the ability to contribute
    and prepare for the costs of long-term services and supports should
    they need them.
  5. Low Premiums – The premiums must be low
    enough that all people, regardless of income, are able to participate
    should they decide to do so.
  6. Non-Medical Model – People
    should be able to decide what services and supports they need in order
    to stay as independent as possible and remain in the community.
    Decisions should not be made for them based on a medical model of
    disability.
  7. Relieve Pressure on Medicaid – Provide an
    alternative funding mechanism for long-term services and supports
    funding so that Medicaid is not the only public source of funds for
    long-term services and supports.

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