In the thick of the debate over President Barack Obama’s health care reform bill, administration officials ignored warnings that one of its most controversial provisions was financially unsustainable and could leave taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars.
According to a report released Thursday by a working group of congressional investigators, officials inside the Department of Health and Human Services ignored numerous red flags about the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports program (CLASS) — and in some cases the officials went to work figuring out how to hide them.
Now, those same officials are scrambling to come up with the financing of the long-term care insurance program — the brainchild of the late Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts — which Republicans on Capitol Hill are trying to repeal.
When the Congressional Budget Office scored the program, analysts said it would account for $70 billion in deficit reduction over ten years. However, that was because those enrolled in the program won’t be able to start receiving benefits until five years into that ten-year period.
The program’s architects assumed it would take in more money than it paid out. And the $70 billion in savings became a crucial selling point that helped secure the bill’s passage.
The congressional working group, however, found that since the program is voluntary it would likely see more unhealthy participants than healthy ones. That means more payouts and less revenue. In the long run, that imbalance puts the CLASS program on a path to financial disaster.
In May 2009, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services chief actuary Rick Foster wrote an email about that exact sticking point, saying it could be a “terminal problem for this proposal” and “a classic ‘assessment spiral’ or ‘insurance death spiral’ would ensue.”
……Another email, dated September 10, 2009, suggests that a senior aide from Sen. Kennedy’s office tried to derail Foster from further discussions on the proposal. The email was sent from the Director of Policy Analysis in the Immediate Office of the Secretary of HHS to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Planning an Evaluation (ASPE). It read that a Democratic staff member “got back to me, and decided she does not think she needs additional work on the actuarial side.”
……Yet as the report points out, neither HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius nor any other staffer made these concerns public in the debate leading up to the eventual passage of the bill.
“To advance the president’s healthcare agenda, it appears a deliberate effort was made by administrative officials to hide CLASS’s true cost from lawmakers and the public,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who was a Republican member of the congressional working group. “The unsustainable CLASS program should be immediately repealed, and with a doubt, this troubling evidence warrants further inquiry.”
“The American people had a right to know the information revealed in our report before they were put on the hook to pay for this massive new entitlement program,” said Thune.
The Dems shut the Republicans and the American people out of the process, hammering out this socialist Frankenstein behind closed doors, screaming epithets at opponents, and insisted they had to “pass the bill to see what was in it”. Those of us who actually read the unconstitutional, costly mess already knew the consequences.
Note to Republicans: Unfuck this damage ASAP.