KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Officials Seek ‘Clarity’ On High-Risk Pool 2013 Allocations

When some states exhausted their funding for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, created by the health law, the federal response was to give them more -- raising questions about whether other states may receive less. Alaska, which spends as much as $200,000 on each member, is an example of a high-spending state.  

CQ HealthBeat: As Some States Get More High-Risk Pool Funding, State Officials Want Clarity On 2013 Allocations
The federal government solved one problem facing the health care overhaul's high-risk pool program when officials agreed to give more money to states that are close to exhausting their allocations. But that created another dilemma: Will some states have to lose some funding as a result? Congress established the federally funded Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) in the 2010 health care law as a way to help patients who couldn’t find affordable coverage because of their medical conditions. Funding for the program is capped at $5 billion and expires on Dec. 31, 2013, just before the new insurance exchanges that will insure those people now covered in the high-risk pools begin operating (Adams, 1/17).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Alaska To Spend $200K A Year For Each High Risk Pool Member
Alaska has long been known as one of the most expensive places to live in the United States. Those higher costs extend to health care services as well. A high risk pool set up under the federal health overhaul to help the uninsured who have pre-existing medical conditions expects to spend $10 million this year to cover about 50 members. That's about $200,000 per person (Galewitz, 1/17).

Meanwhile, Politico Pro reports on essential health benefits' benchmarks -

Politico Pro: Challenge For States On EHB Benchmarks
The Obama administration's decision to let the states pick a benchmark health plan has left a challenging question to the states: What plans will actually fit the bill? States have the option of 10 different benchmark health plans to choose from, but getting the details on what plans can set the standard for essential health benefits in their states has been tough. The uncertainty is frustrating early efforts to address one of states' most challenging health care reform issues in 2012 (Millman, 1/17).

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