Nation's Health Care Needs a Touch of CLASS
by Anthony Stasi
Dec 21, 2009 | 6883 views | 0 0 comments | 74 74 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As our baby boomer generation nears senior citizen status (sorry if it sounds like footsteps), the county’s focus on healthcare policy needs to change. This is less about Obamacare or public options as it is about being smart – realizing that elderly care will change for the U.S because our demographics and earning potential as a country has changed.

Medicaid was made a federal program to cover people at the lowest end of the economic scale. Today, however, we have seniors that pay-down their income in order to qualify for the program. So many of them have to go through a strange series of shifting money in order to get care that might help them in their old age.

Medicaid, like all government entitlements is wobbly. And with that population of Americans about to get bigger, there may be something still good in the healthcare plan that is in congress right now (this is not to say that the rest of it is good). The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act—or CLASS - will allow people and employers to voluntarily opt into a program in which they would contribute for five years at about $65 a month in exchange for $50-100 a day in home care should they need it when they are seniors. This is good, since many seniors will need some kind of assisted living.

The changes in our population demand some kind of program like this. It is not socialist, because its voluntary - it’s a choice. Moreover, the baby boomers did not have as many children as their parents did, so there is more of a chance that tomorrow’s seniors might need to live on their own a little longer. Right now, Medicaid will pay for a nursing home, but it does not really pay for a few hours of home care. It really doesn’t make sense to have a government program pay for round-the-clock nursing home care without an option for covering home care at a fraction of the time and cost. A senior might not need full nursing home care if they can get a few hours of help.

The term "nursing home" makes us uneasy. Our family won't let that happen, we say to ourselves. The CLASS plan might give us another option down the road. If genetics have their way and I follow the route of men in my family, I will end my days watching television on a couch with the volume turned way up high. I may need help remembering to take medication for a few hours a day. This is a plan that might be useful, especially since I am already too grouchy to wash ashore in some communal living facility some years from now.

Just being Frank(en)

In a doctor’s office on the upper-east side, I was a captive audience to an angry receptionist and whoever she was venting to on the phone about her hatred for Senator Joe Lieberman. Lieberman is an important player in the healthcare debate, and he has a history of antagonizing both parties, but still remains well liked a large number of people.

When Senator Al Franken denied Lieberman an extra minute on the senate floor last week, it was a sign that the days of the United States Senate being the more mature, varsity team of both houses might be soon to wane.

Franken is nothing if not unapologetic. In fairness to Franken, he may have had other reasons for the denial and he was really under no obligation to give Lieberman the extra minute. But the Senate runs on its gentleperson’s style of courtesy. Is that courtesy soon to end as we see a new generation of public officials coming up?

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