In a 267-159 vote late Wednesday, the House of Representatives repealed the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act, or CLASS, a long-term-care entitlement program that was part of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare."
In October, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of the Department of Health and Human Services announced that CLASS could not be implemented as designed. The program relied too heavily on the premiums of healthy workers to pay for the long-term care of the elderly, leading opponents of CLASS such as South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham to denounce it as a "Ponzi scheme."
Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s caucus voted to sustain the program—which was described by outside experts and administration officials as fiscally irresponsible and impracticable—159 to 28 (four Democrats abstained).
The House vote comes at a time when Obamacare is under siege. The central domestic policy achievement of the Obama presidency remains unpopular, with 52 percent of likely voters in a recent Rasmussen poll supporting its repeal. A majority of U.S. states have joined in a lawsuit alleging that the act’s individual mandate violates the Constitution. Voters in Missouri and most recently in Ohio have passed referenda that forbid state government requirements to purchase health care coverage.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to review the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act in a rare, five-and-a-half-hour oral argument session in March.