Senate Approves Amended Bill To Provide State Grants for High-Risk Pools
The Senate on Wednesday voted to pass a bill (HR 3204) that would reauthorize a grant program for states to establish or maintain health insurance pools for high-risk individuals who are unable to obtain health insurance, CQ Today reports. The measure was approved after it was amended by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Minority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) dropped his hold on the legislation and a companion Senate bill (S 288). Durbin initially had blocked the bills because they would establish funding formulas for grants to states that he said would hurt larger states, including Illinois.
According to CQ Today, the amended Senate bill would divide 40% of the legislation's funding among all states, allocate 30% to states according to the number of uninsured residents and 30% according to the number of people in state risk pools. The original House-passed bill, which was approved in July, would allocate one-third of funding to all states, one-third based on the number of uninsured and one-third based on the number of residents in state risk pools. The original Senate bill would have divided 50% among all states and allocated 25% based on the number of uninsured and 25% based on the number of residents in state risk pools. Illinois would receive $5.4 million in grants for high-risk pools under the amended legislation, compared with $3.8 million under the original House legislation.
The Senate HELP committee in February initially approved the Senate legislation, but Durbin blocked it. The amended version of HR 3204 is expected to return to the House for another vote, CQ Today reports (Schuler, CQ Today, 10/19).