Panel repeals CLASS Act by voice vote

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"I'm kind of tired of wasting Congress's valuable time with haphazard repeal bills," said the panel's ranking member, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), who sponsored the CLASS Act in the House. "Repeal at this point accomplishes nothing other than to send a very negative message to the disabled community."

Pallone has expressed disappointment at the administration and urged regulators to continue to look for a way to make the program work. The White House opposes repeal.

"Today, my disappointment is solely directed to my Republican colleagues," Pallone said.

Other Democrats described CLASS Act a "starting point" and lambasted Republicans for failing to offer any alternatives at a time when fewer than 9 million Americans have private long-term care insurance and are having to rely instead on the cash-strapped Medicaid program for low-income people. Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) said he'd introduce an amendment on the House floor to block repeal unless a suitable alternative option is in place. 

Republicans were prepared for the accusations.

They acknowledged a long-term care crisis, but said repealing the CLASS Act was the best way forward.

"I don't want to resurrect Dracula," said Rep. Phil GingreyJohn (Phil) Phillip Gingrey2017's top health care stories, from ObamaCare to opioids Beating the drum on healthcare Former GOP chairman joins K Street MORE (R-Ga.), who co-sponsored the repeal legislation. "I want to drive a stake through his heart."

The panel's chairman, Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), called the notion that repealing the CLASS Act was a vote against people with disabilities a "false choice and a premise that I refuse to accept."

"We do need to solve this problem," said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas). "The CLASS Act is not the way to solve it."

And Rep. Michael BurgessMichael Clifton BurgessThe 27 Republicans who voted with Democrats to block Trump from taking military action against Iran GOP rep: Children are free to leave migrant camps at 'any time' Bipartisan House panel leaders ask agencies for maternal mortality data MORE (R-Texas) called the program a "silent threat to the Treasury" that will never work and sets back efforts to address the issue.

The repeal bill now goes to the full committee. A markup there has yet to be scheduled.