The Obama administration is giving up on a big piece of its health care reform, the Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today. The CLASS program would have created a new long-term health insurance plan that would have allowed workers of any age or health status to buy in, pay premiums, and then collect insurance if they became disabled. But the administration wasn't able to figure out a way to get enough healthy people to sign up to offset the program's costs, Sebelius said in a letter to Congress. Today's announcement isn't terribly surprising given that at the end of last month, much of the program's staff left, including the actuary whose job it would presumably be to calculate how to finance the program.
Sarah Kliff, writing for Ezra Klein's Washington Post blog, said the decision doesn't bode well for the larger health care reform.
What’s most damaging about the decision are the larger implications for the health reform law. The pullout is expected to reduce the projected budget savings of the Affordable Care Act -- when the Office of Budget Management issues the president’s 2013 budget -- by approximately $86 billion... The decision also raises questions about the methodology used to supports the health reform law.