HHS Offers States Grants To Create High-Risk Insurance Pools
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson yesterday announced a new program that will allow 27 states and the District of Columbia to apply for grants of as much as $1 million each to establish high-risk health insurance pools for individuals who cannot purchase individual coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports. The Trade Act of 2002 (HR 3009) allocated $20 million for the grants to help states establish high-risk pools and an additional $80 million over two years to help cover the operational costs of the programs (AP/Long Island Newsday, 11/26). States that operated high-risk pools before Aug. 6, 2002, the date that President Bush signed the trade legislation into law, do not qualify for the grants, which will be administered by CMS. Currently, more than 150,000 individuals nationwide participate in high-risk pools, which provide health coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions who are either self-employed or employed by small businesses that do not offer health coverage. "These pools have proven to be an effective mechanism to provide comprehensive health coverage to individuals who are unable to get health insurance in the private market because of poor health," Thompson said, adding, "This is the first time federal funding assistance has been available for high-risk pools." Thompson yesterday sent letters to encourage governors of eligible states to apply for the grants (HHS release, 11/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.