During the health care debate of 2009 and 2010, the Obama administration used a number of accounting tricks to try to get the Congressional Budget Office to score the legislation as deficit neutral. One such trick took the form of a new entitlement: the Community Living Assistance Services and Support (CLASS) program.
The brainchild of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), CLASS would provide long-term care insurance to Americans who pay premiums to the federal goverment for five years. In a ten-year window, then, the program looks financially stable. But into the future, it becomes “totally unsustainable,” as Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius put it. She acknowledged that the program, in its current form, will not meet the requirement that it be financially solvent for the next 75 years.
Why, then, is HHS soliciting bids for a pair of contracts that would step up efforts to market the program to the American public? Two such contract solicitations – essentially classified ads for federal contractors – were recently released, and show that HHS is trying to sugarcoat the program even before Americans know whether it will meet the law’s solvency requirements.