On July 1st, the Affordable Care Act will begin providing temporary health care coverage to Americans who can’t find affordable insurance in the individual health care market through high-risk insurance pools. The law allows states to decide whether they will 1) participate in a new high-risk health-insurance pool, 2) build on an existing program (if they have one), 3) establish a separate state-based high risk pool with federal funding, or 4) do nothing at all, in which case, the federal government would come in and administer the program. Last month, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote states to ask how they plan to implement the high-risk insurance pool provision. Last Friday, most of the states responded:
The states that opted out of the program complained that the $5 billion in federal dollars would not be enough to fully fund their pools, and they said that they could not cover the uninsured with state funds. While their concerns are not without merit, they raise two important questions. First, if the states can’t find enough dollars to cover the uninsured for three and a half years, how in the world would they have enough money to develop reform on a state level, as Republicans argue they should? And second, why are these mostly conservative states, relying on the federal government to cover the uninsurable population? The Wonk Room has more.
(Map designed by Nick McClellan.)