Budget details implementation costs


The details of the CLASS Act, a voluntary employer insurance plan that provides long-term benefits for workers, aren’t due until Oct. 1, 2012, but the Administration on Aging plans to coordinate a massive $93.5 million information and education program in fiscal 2012.

“Employers and individuals will need to have access to information about the need for long-term services and supports and the benefits of the program,” the office said in its budget request.

“Recent Federal efforts have been similar in scope and funds,” it added. “For example, the Census promotional efforts exceeded $350 million over two years. The CLASS effort necessitates a similar investment.”

The CLASS Act has been targeted by the GOP for repeal, and the president’s deficit commission raised concerns about the program’s sustainability. The commission called for the program to be either repealed or reformed, but the White House budget presses ahead with implemention.

Earlier this month, however, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the administration is weighing changes to the program to ensure its financial stability, even if that means making its benefits less generous.

The HHS budget details further efforts to implement the healthcare reform law, as well as a new food safety initiative.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates that the new Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) will employ 272 individuals in fiscal 2012. The center was originally created under Sebelius’s office, but it was recently shifted to CMS.

Republicans on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the CCIIO Wednesday to get details on why the office was moved.

CMS Administrator Don Berwick told reporters on Monday that the White House budget includes $465 million to implement the healthcare overhaul, including more than $300 million his agency alone. CMS will add just under 650 employees.

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration said it will take about $325 million and 829 employees to implement a major overhaul of the nation's food safety system enacted last year. The Food Safety Modernization Act provides new powers to the FDA, but it left much of the funding to the appropriations process.