White House Sends Mixed Signals on Failed Home Care Insurance Program

Questions over new health entitlement's status


Republicans say they are mystified after Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the Obama administration could not  implement a new benefit under the health care law because it would add too much to the deficit only to have the White House insist it had not been cancelled.

"I think everybody's head is spinning around here," Sen John Thune, R-S.D., said. "It's incomprehensible to me that the administration would, after having their Health and Human Services secretary come out on Friday and say, we're pulling the plug on this thing, we're not going to implement it ... that then they would still say that we're kind of wedded to this thing."

Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., told Fox News' Greta Van Susteren that "somebody at (the Congressional Budget Office) finally woke up and said you know what the Republicans said about this a year and a half ago is actually true. So they killed the program. Now they are saying today, well it's not really dead."

The Congressional Budget Office helped determine that the program known as CLASS, or Community Living Assistance Services and Supports, a voluntary insurance program for home services for the disabled, could not meet the legal requirement that it not add to the deficit.

Republicans were heartened that fiscal concerns had finally held sway.

"Last Friday, somebody in the Obama administration said we have got a nightmare on our hands," Graham said. "We can't let this thing ever get started. It will blow a hole in the budget."

But liberal supporters of  program argue it can and should go forward, and they were a little miffed the administration appeared to be dropping it.

"So we were left now with a situation where we have a program that we still think will work," says Connie Garner, head of a coalition called Advance CLASS.

And Bob Yee, who was the actuary for the program until recently added, "I do not know why they are backing away. Clearly one of the ideas is to have options, you know, optional plans."

The White House seemed to agree with them and not the Health and Human Services Department, telling Fox News it does not support repeal.

So is the Obama administration killing the program or not? That questino was put to Sen. Chuck Schumer, a fiery Democrat who rarely pulls punches, but he seemed uncertain on this question.

"Well, I think you'd have to talk to some of the folks on the health committee on that," Schumer said. "Bottom line is, (it's) something obviously the people are looking at or re-looking at right now."

Jim Angle currently serves as chief national correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined FNC in 1996 as a senior White House correspondent.