Great struggles sometimes result in unexpected opportunities. In the waning moments of 2012, Congress remained in session to bridge partisan divides to solve the fiscal cliff impasse with the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA). Signing the ATRA into law also achieved policy change on items far beyond the tax code.
For example, the new law repealed the Community Living Assistance Services and Support (CLASS) provision in the Affordable Care Act, which would have created a new, national, voluntary, long-term care insurance product. Yet the problem of how to best finance and deliver care for our vulnerable loved ones has been looming for years and endures. As a much-needed acknowledgment of this, the Congress created a new Commission to propose policy solutions to address the long-term care challenges that a growing number of Americans face.
Given the sheer magnitude of this issue, the current political climate, and the short time span for turning around a meaningful legislative proposal (six months), the Commission’s charge is nothing short of colossal. However, its creation in the wake of the CLASS repeal is an important step towards system transformation that will enable Americans to age with dignity, independence, and choice. The Commission will consist of 15 appointees, nine Democrats and six Republicans, to be named in the next month, who will report back to Congress by the summer. They must devise a plan on the financing and delivery of a comprehensive and coordinated system that ensures available long-term services and supports for people in need today, and options for Americans to plan for their future needs.
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