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Fixing CLASS

Last month, the White House announced it was suspending implementation of the CLASS Act, a voluntary long term care plan passed as part of health reform. (For a look at what the CLASS Act was and why it ended, check out our primer on the issue.)

But even though CLASS has been shelved, the problem of how to pay for long-term care care remains. The Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff talked to a number of health policy experts, who came up with four solutions for addressing long-term care. Here’s one:

Expand Medicare to cover long-term care: Medicare has grown substantially since its enactment in 1965, to cover prescription drugs and other new benefits. But its services have never touched long-term care. “In one sense, it’s a historical accident,” says Taylor. “When Medicare passed, people didn’t live as long.” So one possible solution would be creating a new Medicare program to cover long-term care issues. There’s one huge roadblock here: Medicare is already very expensive, with costs growing at a rapid clip. Adding in long-term care benefits – which can cost, on average, $50,000 for one year – “You could imagine having bigger deductibles as a sort of quid pro for an expansion of Medicare to long term care,” says Mark Pauly, a professor of health care management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.

Read the whole thing for the other three.

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