ACTION ALERT: CLASS Act

December 2, 2009

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On Nov. 21, the U.S. Senate voted to send the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590) to the floor for debate. While the floor debate is a great step forward, it is also a time when the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act provision could be stripped from the final bill.

We must make sure our Senators keep the CLASS Act in the final health reform package.  With calls to some offices running 90 to 1 against the health care reform bill, our involvement is more important than ever before.

 

Our contacts on Capitol Hill tell us that one of the biggest obstacles for the CLASS Act is misperception among Members of Congress and their staff that people with disabilities belong in the Medicaid program and cannot work.  I cannot stress how important it is for us to address this misinformation.

Tell Congress Your Story about Long Term Services and Supports

That's why I am asking your help.  We would like to collect at least five stories from each state that highlight how the long-term services and supports experience affects individuals with disabilities who work as well as their families.  We are seeking personal stories that fall under two categories:

 

1)    Retrospective - What could have been if the CLASS Act program had been available.  Story examples include:

•  You worked for many years and discovered that you were financially unprepared for your long term services and supports needs after you became disabled in a car accident.  If you had been able to pay into the CLASS Act program, you could have paid an attendant to help you remain in your own home and not been forced to move into a nursing home before it was necessary.

•  Your sister who has a developmental disability held a job for several years until her health worsened and she required assistance with daily activities such as transportation and meal preparation.  Had she been able to pay into the CLASS Act program, she could have paid an attendant to help her with these activities of daily living and remained employed.

•  Your wife became disabled after suffering a stroke.  Had she been able to pay into the CLASS Act program, she could have used the cash benefit to pay for services and supports in the state where you had planned to move to.  Instead, she had to spend down all her savings to qualify for Medicaid and you and your wife were unable to move.

•  Your father's retirement savings were depleted to pay for his long term care needs.  If he had been able to pay into the CLASS Act program, he could have made the necessary modifications to his home to accommodate his wheelchair and for his other needs instead of relying on you and your sibling who tapped into your own children's education funds to help pay for his care.

2)    Prospective - What could be if the CLASS Act program becomes available. Story examples include:

•  You just started your career.  If the CLASS Act program becomes available, you know that you can be take personal responsibility for your own care and be more self sufficient should you become disabled for any reason.

•  Your son has a disability and is currently employed.  If the CLASS Act program becomes available, he will be able use the cash benefit to purchase the services and supports that he needs to remain employed for as long as possible.

•  Your husband is starting to plan for his retirement. If the CLASS Act program is available, you know that, if he becomes disabled, you will not have to divorce him in order to keep his household income below the Medicaid eligibility level to receive long term services and supports.

•  Your father is nearing retirement.  If the CLASS Act program becomes available, he can start paying in and supplement his private long term care insurance plan that provides limited coverage.

*We have attached a personal story we received as an example.

You can submit stories online at http://surveys.aahsa.org/EFM/wsb.dll/s/30g179, or use the questions in this survey to help guide you in writing your story.  If you would prefer to just email your story (instead of the survey), please send it to ejensby@aucd.org.

Please make sure that the subjects of the story you provide are willing to have their story shared publicly in Congress and potentially in the media. Or your story can be anonymous, but you must provide the state in which the story subject lives.

We need stories by Friday, December 4.  Please do not hesitate to call Ellen Jensby at (240) 821-9375, or Kim Musheno at (240) 821-9381 with any questions.

For more information on the CLASS Act, see:
Http://www.passtheclassact.org

 

ADDITIONALLY:

Tomorrow, December 3rd is the CLASS Act call-in day. The call-in number is (800) 958-5374.  

Sarah Mashburn of AAHSA also drafted a short sample script below.  

Sample Script:

Hello. I am calling to ask Senator ___________________ to make sure the CLASS Act remains in the final health reform legislation. People need help accessing the long-term services and supports that help them remain independent and at home. The CLASS Act is an affordable, accessible and fiscally solvent way to provide these services and reduce Medicaid costs at the same time. I thank Senator ___________________ in advance for the support, and I look forward to a response.