Moderate Senators Oppose Long Term Health Care Proposal

A group of moderate Democrats sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today, asking him to leave out of his health care bill a measure that would create a nationwide insurance program for the disabled, Politico reports.

Senators Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) wrote in the letter that they are concerned the CLASS Act would increase deficits.

The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act would create a new government fund to insure people in the event they become disabled. The new, nationwide insurance program would be financed through payroll deductions with opt-out enrollment.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the CLASS Act would actually reduce the deficit by $73 billion over 10 years, but the senators point out in their letter that the program would not begin paying out benefits until 2016. Furthermore, they said, it would increase the deficit after the first decade.

"We have grave concerns that the real effect of the provisions would be to create a new federal entitlement program with large, long term spending increases that far exceed revenues," the wrote.

The CLASS Act was sponsored by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and has strong support in the House.