Report: High-Risk Pool Funding May Fall Short Of Need
A $5 billion fund to create high-risk pools in the states as part of the health overhaul may fall short of meeting the needs of uninsured people with health problems if state and federal officials closely monitor the program, according to a new report by the National Institute for Health Care Reform, an automaker-sponsored think tank, Kaiser Health News reports. "As many as 7 million people have been uninsured for an extended time because of their health conditions, make too much for safety net programs such as Medicaid and have not qualified for existing state-financed risk pools," but "the money could cover as few as 200,000 people unless states take actions to stretch the money further" (Weaver, 5/27).
The 200,000 figure "is still double the number of people now covered by underfinanced risk pools in 35 states. But the gap will force policy makers to freeze enrollment in the new pools, limit access and benefits, or increase premiums, the center said," The New York Times reports. Many people with medical conditions may still be unable to obtain coverage. "That fear - along with partisan considerations - prompted officials in 20 states to decline to establish their own federally financed pools, opting to leave the task to Washington. Officials in those states, predominantly Republicans, worry that they would face intense pressure to pick up the burden if the money runs out" (Sack, 5/26).