Two months ago, Medicare’s actuary warned that the federal high-risk pool would cost much more than the $5 billion Congress allocated to it as part of the ObamaCare bill. The poll was created to keep people with pre-existing conditions insured until mandates required insurers to cover them took effect in 2014. Now the White House admits that the money will run out — and that those patients may not get covered after all:
The Obama administration has not ruled out turning sick people away from an insurance program created by the new healthcare law to provide coverage for the uninsured.
Critics of the $5 billion high-risk pool program insist it will run out of money before Jan. 1, 2014. That’s when the program sunsets and health plans can no longer discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.
Administration officials insist they can make changes to the program to ensure it lasts until 2014, and that it may not have to turn away sick people. Officials said the administration could also consider reducing benefits under the program, or redistributing funds between state pools. But they acknowledged turning some people away was also a possibility.
“There’s a certain amount of money authorized in the statute, and we will do our best to make sure that that amount of money insures as many people as possible and does as much good as possible,” said Jay Angoff, director of the Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “I think it’s premature to say [what happens] when it’s gone.”
Only one of two things will happen when it’s gone, so it’s hardly “premature” to discuss it. One option would be to go back to Congress and get more money. That would mean admitting that Congress had no idea what this program would cost in the first place, and it would also likely push the program even more quickly into deficit spending, so that’s politically unpalatable. The second would be to stop funding health insurance for those with pre-existing conditions, which means they will be left uninsured until 2014 — and that’s probably even more politically unpalatable. The only question will be which poison the White House chooses to drink.
If they pick Poison #2, Rob Port from Say Anything has a question for them:
Just so we got this straight, it might be ok for the government to discriminate based on pre-existing conditions, because letting people refrain from getting insurance until they’re sick is a good way to lose a lot of money, but private insurance companies?
Well, it’s evil when they do it.
What turned out to be “premature” was the passage of ObamaCare. As this demonstrates, Congress had no clear idea of actual costs or complications in the program. It should never have passed in the first place, but this key issue shows what happens when government attempts to run a business sector without having any expertise in it.