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Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) speaking at a March candidates forum in Greenbelt. (Mark Gail for The Washington Post)

Members of Congress are urging the Office of Personnel Management to delay a major price hike in the long-term-care insurance program for federal employees and retirees.

In a letter sent Friday to acting OPM director Beth Cobert, Reps. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), Gerry Connolly (Va.) and Don Beyer (Va.), all Democrats, criticized the agency for approving the increase, which will average 83 percent and go as high as 126 percent.

The letter quoted literature sent to customers in 2002: “Your premiums can change only with OPM’s approval and only on a group, not an individual, basis.” John Hancock Life and Health Insurance provides the insurance.

Complaining that “our constituents were blindsided,” the lawmakers said the policyholders “are now faced with paying the increased premium or reducing or even dropping coverage that some have held since the program began more than a decade ago.”

The letter urged an extension of the Sept. 30 deadline customers have to make a decision about their long-term-care policy.

“Since this announcement was first made in July, we have not received acceptable answers for why changes in actuarial projections occurred so suddenly as to justify this dramatic premium hike, why the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) failed to provide advance notice of the impact of these projections to enrollees, and how OPM plans to improve oversight of the program to prevent sudden hikes in the future,” the lawmakers wrote.

Read more:

Costs skyrocket for feds’ long-term-care insurance

Feds feel the burn over huge long-term-care price hike

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