House committee votes to repeal small health reform provision

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has voted to repeal a controversial element of the healthcare reform package.
With a bipartisan vote of 33-17 the committee passed the Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act of 2011, setting the stage for a full House vote — possibly by year’s end.
The bill seeks to repeal the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act (CLASS), which was part of President Obama’s healthcare reform bill.
The CLASS Act would have created a voluntary long-term care benefits program. The problem was the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — the entity tasked with finding a way to make the program viable — couldn’t find a way to make the program pay for itself and suspended its implementation indefinitely.
The HHS made that announcement this fall, which could be the death knell for the program.
How was the program expected to work? Enrollees would pay monthly premiums into the program for at least five years before being able to receive cash benefits to pay for long-term care expenses. That was expected to raise nearly $80 billion before the first benefits were paid out.
But many officials believed that because the program was voluntary, participation rates could dwindle in future years as care costs and premiums increase, leading to more benefits payouts than premiums collected.
The Obama administration has said it would like to see the CLASS Act restructured rather than taken off the books completely.