File this under “Now they tell us.” From the Washington Post:
The Obama administration cut a major planned benefit from the 2010 health-care law on Friday, announcing that a program to offer Americans insurance for long-term care was simply unworkable. …
Because the insurance program had been projected to reduce the federal deficit by $86 billion over the next 10 years, terminating it complicates the nation’s budget picture. It is now estimated that the health-care law will cut the deficit by $124 billion from 2012 to 2021, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Actually, plenty of Obamacare opponents said from the beginning that the Community Living Assistance Services Act, better known as CLASS, was a two-fold sham. First, because it would be unworkable, as the Obama administration now concedes. And second, because it was included only as a numbers-rigging exercise to make Obamacare marketable as a net reduction in federal deficits.
In fact, doubts about the program’s viability — not some sudden epiphany about fiscal responsibility within the administration — are the reason CLASS is being dismissed. The Wall Street Journal explains:
The only reason the Health and Human Services Department pre-emptively called off this scheme is that former New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg succeeded in inserting a proviso that required the Class program’s reality to match Democratic promises as a matter of law. If HHS couldn’t provide “an actuarial analysis of the 75-year costs of the program that ensures solvency throughout such 75-year period,” it couldn’t be legally implemented.
HHS couldn’t do that, and now anywhere from half to two-thirds of the supposed deficit savings (depending on which 10-year window you choose) is gone. The rest will follow soon enough.
Abandoning CLASS also highlights one of the other main criticisms of the law: that it was thrown together hastily so that President Obama and congressional Democrats could salvage something from nearly a year of bumbling, fumbling and stumbling toward health reform. And as we were all taught as children, haste makes waste.
It’s the latest example of why Nancy Pelosi’s “pass it to find out what’s in it” statement will go down in infamy. And it’s yet another reason for members of Congress with any sense to work toward repealing the entire law and replacing it. The WSJ suggests an excellent way of doing that: Make the Gregg amendment apply to the entire law.
Do that, and the law should be dead in the water before the Supreme Court even gets a crack at it next year.
– By Kyle Wingfield