President Barack Obama's new healthcare law reportedly doesn't allocate nearly enough money to cover the estimated 5.6 million to 7 million Americans with pre-existing medical conditions who will qualify for temporary high-risk insurance pools
An analysis by the Center for Studying Health System Change found that the new law “could leave hundreds of thousands of potential participants with serious medical problems unable to obtain coverage,” and concluded that the $5 billion earmarked for the pools might cover as few as 200,000 people a year.
That’s double the number of people now covered by underfinanced risk pools in 35 states, the New York Times reported.
The gap will force policymakers to freeze enrollment in the new pools, limit access and benefits, or increase premiums, prompting officials in 20 states to decline to establish their own federally financed pools because of concerns over intense pressure to pick up the burden if the money runs out.
The new law calls for the federal government to pick up the total cost of insuring newly eligible parents and childless adults for three years. Then the states will begin to pay some of the expense, gradually rising to 10 percent in 2020. Many governors fear that at that point the new costs will severely burden state budgets.
The high-risk pools may open in some states as early as July 1, and must have premiums equivalent to standard rates for healthy enrollees.
Although Medicaid is a shared state and federal expense, the federal government will pick up 95 percent of the cost of the expansion between 2014, when it takes effect, and 2019, the foundation reported.
Medicaid enrollment is projected to rise by 15.9 million during that period, lowering the number of low-income uninsured by 11.2 million.
The Center for Studying Health System Change study was underwritten by the National Institute for Healthcare Reform, a consortium of automakers and their unions.
A second recent analysis, by the Kaiser Family Foundation, concluded that states should be pleased, at least in the short term, with the new law's expansion of Medicaid eligibility.
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