Eighteen States Decline To Run High-Risk Health Insurance Pools
By Monday, officials from all but two states had informed HHS of their decisions to participate in a new federal program that creates temporary state-based high-risk insurance pools to provide coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, CQ HealthBeat reports.
According to HHS, the District of Columbia and 29 states have said that they will accept federal funds to establish their own pools (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 5/3). Another 18 states have indicated that they will let the federal government administrate the pools for them (Hilzenrath, Washington Post, 5/4).
Under the program outlined in the new health reform law, states are permitted to create their own pools, expand existing pools, or allow the federal government to create and administer the pools for them.
The law allocates $5 billion for the program, which is scheduled to begin operating on July 1 and expire in 2014, when the overhaul requires private insurers to accept all applicants regardless of pre-existing conditions. To qualify for coverage under the high-risk pools, residents with a pre-existing condition must have been without insurance for at least six months (California Healthline, 5/3).
On Monday, HHS officials said that they had not received official responses from Arizona and Florida. However, Florida media recently reported that Gov. Charlie Crist (I) had informed HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that his state would not be setting up its own high-risk pool, CQ HealthBeat notes (CQ HealthBeat, 5/3).
The Post reports that officials in some states that chose not to administer their own pools had expressed concern that the law reserved inadequate funds for the program to operate until 2014 (Washington Post, 5/4).
Last month, officials from Georgia and Nebraska wrote to Sebelius expressing their concerns, while CMS Chief Actuary Rick Foster in an analysis of the new reform law released last month wrote that the $5 billion allocated for the program "by 2011 and 2012 ... would be exhausted, resulting in substantial premium increases to sustain the program" (California Healthline, 5/3).
States That Have Responded to HHS So Far
States that will operate their own pools:
- Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The District of Columbia also will operate its own pool.
States that will allow the federal government to administer the pools:
- Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming (CQ HealthBeat, 5/3).