Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Date: Feb. 1, 2012
Location: Washington, DC


Ms. HAHN. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in strong opposition to H.R. 1173, the Republican legislation to repeal the CLASS program.

CLASS was designed to be the first Federal voluntary long-term care program, making long-term care more accessible and affordable for millions of Americans. The idea behind the CLASS program is to provide Americans, especially our seniors, with peace of mind if they suffer from an unexpected long-term illness or injury.

We have a long-term care crisis in this country. According to Secretary Sebelius, ``an estimated 15 million Americans will need some kind of long-term care, and fewer than 3 percent have a long-term care policy.'' Because Medicare and other existing programs do not cover these services, we must work together to find a solution. As my Republican friends know, however, the CLASS program as enacted will not be implemented. Secretary Sebelius informed Congress last October that she did not ``see a viable path forward for CLASS implementation at this time.'' In other words, this legislation we are debating today is not needed.

Instead of legislation to create jobs and grow our economy, our Republican friends are focused on repealing a program that has already been suspended. I want to encourage my friends on the other side of the aisle to take a step back and focus on the things we could be doing together to make long-term care more affordable and accessible.

I have encountered in my own life the issue of providing long-term care. My dear, sweet mother, before she passed away last summer, received long-term care services for years, and I will always remember the warmth and affection her caregivers showed her and my family day in and day out. What we should be doing today is ensuring that the hardworking men and women who provide care for our seniors in their own homes earn a living wage, because these jobs are the jobs that make a difference and that bring happiness to those who need their help the most.

With robust job growth predicted in the health care sector over the next decade, it is imperative that we support long-term care services and those who provide those services. This is a win-win for the American economy. Not only do long-term care services provide jobs, but we know, if our seniors can be taken care of in their own homes, it can save Americans money in the long run. I fear, however, that this legislation is meant as a step towards dismantling the health care reform law that Congress passed and that the President signed, a law that will help millions of Americans obtain better and more affordable health care coverage over the next decade.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies cannot deny coverage to people with preexisting conditions. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Americans now have access to free preventative care services. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, small businesses can receive tax credits to provide their employees with health coverage. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, children can stay on their parents' insurance until they're 26. We just hope they don't move back home.

To my colleagues on the other side, let's not work to strip these provisions, putting power back in the hands of for-profit insurance companies. We do not need this legislation. Instead of repealing a program that is not moving forward, why don't we work on replacing it with a better long-term care program. The Affordable Care Act is not a perfect law. That's why we should be working together to fix the problems, not just to repeal them. Those problems will remain even if we repeal this part of the law. Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to stop this needless debate and legislation and get to work on the real issues at hand.