A Few Questions Answered on the High-Risk Pool

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A Few Questions Answered on the High-Risk Pool

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 - 10:35
Tuesday, June 22, 2010 - 10:21
A letter from the CBO to congressional leaders answers a few questions about the high-risk pool.

A letter dug up by our friends at HealthReformGPS appears to answer some of the questions we have been posing on this blog about the high-risk pool to cover those with pre-existing conditions.

The letter from CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf to Sens. Michael Enzi, Tom Harkin, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell can be found here. The letter clearly states that the $5 billion in funding to subsidize the premiums for individuals won't be enough to cover all those who will want such coverage until 2014. CBO estimates that the pool will cover about 200,000 people -- far less than the amount of invidividuals who haven't been able to afford coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

Running a high-risk pool that did not cap funding and met demand would cost between $10 billion and $15 billion, according to CBO.

Clearly, HHS has some tough decisions ahead about how this $5 billion in funding for the high-risk pool can be spread out most efficiently, and with the least amount of political fallout. After all, the biggest selling point for health reform was that people would no longer be turned away from the coverage they need. How should HHS go about spending this $5 billion?