Health care overhaul includes 'game-changing' long-term care coverage

The Kansas City StarApril 19, 2010 

The young mother who becomes paraplegic after a wreck. The soldier who returns home with a severe head injury. The middle-aged woman with early dementia.

They, like millions of Americans, need long-term health care.

But few can afford it.

That's where a little-discussed part of the massive Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the national health care reform package, comes into the picture.

Buried in the law is Title VIII, the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act, or CLASS, one of the earliest programs scheduled to go into effect — on Jan. 1, 2011.

CLASS is designed to give workers a consumer-financed national insurance pool to help pay for long-term care, either in their homes or in care centers, when they're disabled enough by age, disease or injury to need it.

"It's a game changer," said Larry Minnix, president of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, who advocated for the concept for years.

Mountains of implementation details are yet to be delivered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And benefits won't begin to flow for at least six years.

CLASS is envisioned as a supplement to Medicaid or private savings. If it works, people who pay premiums into a long-term care insurance fund could get $50 or more a day for such care.

To read the complete article, visit www.kansascity.com.

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