When President Obama signed the healthcare bill into law, it included a program that has received little publicity, but promises to be very important as aging boomers require long-term care and disability assistance.
The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act (known as the CLASS Act) mandates the creation of a national long-term care insurance program that will provide average benefits of no less than $50 per day to help people pay for non-medical expenses--like home care--that will help them maintain their independent living status.
Under the CLASS Act, this long-term care program will be paid for by workers through automatic payroll deductions, which will be deducted from paychecks. All workers will be automatically enrolled in the program unless they choose to opt out. The current plan is that workers need to participate in the program for a vesting period of five years before they can apply for benefits.
The original CLASS Act legislation was introduced by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) in March 2009, and was one of the last tasks Kennedy performed before leaving the Senate for health reasons.
The late Sen. Kennedy was a longtime proponent of a national healthcare system and improved benefits for Americans, and I'm sure he would be proud to see this legistation signed into law.
For an informative overview of the CLASS Act, including a discussion of whether the program would pay for itself and how long it could remain solvent, see National Public Radio's "Long-Term Care Program Debuts In New Health Law."