States Could Launch Catastrophic Coverage Pilots
Sens. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on Wednesday announced plans to introduce a bill next week that would help states cover catastrophic health care costs for uninsured residents, the Oregonian reports (Colburn, Oregonian, 7/6). The "Catastrophic Health Coverage Promotion Act," which would cost $50 million to $100 million annually, would establish four to six pilot programs to which states could apply through HHS.
Two of the programs would help states offer health plans that combine primary and preventive care coverage with catastrophic coverage. Private health insurers would market the health plans to uninsured residents and to small businesses that have not offered coverage to employees for at least one year, with financial assistance provided to low-income individuals and families.
Two other pilot programs would help state residents who have heath insurance but have annual out-of-pocket costs that exceed $10,500. The legislation would allow catastrophic coverage through high-risk health insurance pools, supplemental coverage for small businesses and other arrangements.
According to Smith and Wyden, the programs would first launch in Oregon and at least three other states (Christie, Eugene Register-Guard, 7/6).
The senators say the "modest" legislation could pass in a divided Congress (Oregonian, 7/6).