The CLASS Act, ctd.

For those who don’t read comments, I’m just reiterating some of the content of one I submitted a little while ago to my earlier post on the CLASS Act. If you want to see opposing, credible views on the actuarial soundness–or lack thereof–of the CLASS Act, read the April 22, 2010 letter from Richard Foster, CMS Chief Actuary (page 14) and the July 22, 2009 letter by the American Academy of Actuaries. The latter was written before the legislation passed so I don’t know if it accurately reflects the final law.

I am not going to arbitrate between competing claims of the soundness of the CLASS Act. It is not something I can do with any confidence. However, if one believes it to be a fiscal disaster waiting to happen, the sensible position to take is to advocate to amend or repeal it, and it alone. One need not repeal the entire ACA to address problems in the CLASS Act, if any.

Finally, the CBO is the official non-partisan arbiter of federal legislation. They may not get everything right. They may make different assumptions than some think they should. But they do work hard and honestly to do the best they can within the rules and conditions under which they operate. I do not condemn any member of Congress who wishes to use the CBO’s work to claim fiscal soundness, even that of the CLASS Act. The CBO is a credible source and the official one.

By the same token, I do not think it inappropriate for a member of Congress to seek to modify legislation so as to increase the chances that it produce an actuarially stable program. I do object to any implication some might make that the entire ACA and the CBO’s score of it are suspect due to a few provisions, the CLASS Act among them. If you’ve got a concern about the CLASS Act, seek to address it. It can be, and perhaps should have been, separated from the rest of the law.

The provisions of the ACA should be modified for cost control and budgetary reasons as we move forward. I will leave it to others, and the political process, to decide if the CLASS Act should be among the first to be addressed (as if I had a choice in that matter).

UPDATE: There’s a second American Academy of Actuaries document on the CLASS Act.

UPDATE 2: See this comment and my response.

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