I had the chance to interview the Urban Institute’s Howard Gleckman, one of the nation’s leading experts on disability policy and long-term care. The small piece below gives a flavor of things.
Pollack: So what’s next? Now that CLASS has failed. Is there anything that’s going to come in its place?
Gleckman: The fiscal cliff law does create a new commission which is tasked to come up with a solution to the financing problem, and also to address delivery and workforce issues….
We haven’t really done a good review of long-term care policies since the Pepper commission in 1990. It’s absolutely time that we do it again.
But this commission will be hamstrung by a very short time frame. Its members must be appointed within 30 days. The commission has to make its recommendations within six months after that. I honestly don’t think it’s possible to perform a serious review and deliver a set of serious proposals in six months.
It’s also concerning that this commission is not connected to any federal agency. Normally, you would think that something like this would have some connection with the Department of Health and Human Services, but it’s not. It’s floating around out there with no bureaucratic home.
There is also no requirement that Congress actually vote on any of these recommendations. The Commission is required to submit its recommendations in six months but Congress could ignore them. I don’t know where that leaves us.
Pollack: If anything, I think you’re wildly overoptimistic. It just seems like it’s going to head straight to the write‑only memory, as we used to say in engineering school.
Gleckman: I think that’s right. There are two reasons why Congress creates commissions. The first is that there is an intractable problem they want to get all the parties to sit down and work out. That was the case a few years ago, when there was a broad consensus that we needed to close military bases. The normal regular order of Congress wasn’t going to do it. So Congress turned it over to a commission. Everybody had agreed in advance what they wanted to do. Then there is the more common commission, which essentially is a way to make it look like you’re doing something when you’re really not. I fear that is what this one is.
See the full interview here.