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Long-term care plan alarms ignored

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Associated Press, September 15, 2011

Even as leading Democrats offered assurances to the contrary, government experts repeatedly warned that a new long-term care insurance plan could go belly up, saddling taxpayers with another underfunded benefit program, according to emails disclosed by congressional investigators. Part of President Barack Obama's healthcare law, the program is in limbo as a congressional debt panel searches for budget savings and behind the scenes, administration officials scramble to find a viable financing formula. A longstanding priority of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-MA, the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports program, or CLASS, was spliced into the healthcare law despite nagging budget worries. Administration emails and documents reveal that alarms were sounded earlier and more widely than previously thought. Congressional Republicans seeking repeal of the program provided the materials to The Associated Press. "Seems like a recipe for disaster to me," William Marton, a senior aging policy official in the administration, wrote in an October 2009 email.