Republicans said at a time of record deficits, the administration is now in a position of saying it wants to keep alive a program it acknowledges would probably go bust.
"It defies logic for the White House to admit this part of their health spending bill would put an unsustainable burden on taxpayers, yet demand it stay on the books," said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Adding to the uncertainty, a top technical expert who worked on CLASS financing for the administration appeared to contradict Sebelius' conclusions. Robert Yee, an actuary who specializes in long-range financial planning, said Monday that he had found a possible path forward. Yee's ideas would involve marketing the plan first to groups of primarily healthy people, and also possibly requiring those in poor health to wait longer before they could receive benefits.
It was unclear whether either of those approaches would be acceptable to the coalition of CLASS supporters — or Sebelius and the administration.
Yee's ideas called for making CLASS more like private long-term care insurance. Administration lawyers did not see how that could be done while also abiding by a requirement in the legislation that the program be open to people regardless of their health problems.
Supporters of the program say the administration will pay a political price if it tosses out the long-term care plan. AARP, the seniors lobby, has called the decision by Sebelius premature
"If they said they want to hibernate it for a couple of years, that would be clearer than what they are saying now," said Minnix.
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