HHS Is Altering Its Deal. Pray It Does Not Alter It Any Further.


Need further proof that ObamaCare's temporary network of high-risk pools was little more than an afterthought? Just look at the department of Health and Human Service's most recent rule making, which gives the agency the power to make the program a lot less appealing than the way it was pitched.

We've known for months that funding for the high-risk pools was lower than needed to meet demand. Medicare's chief actuary, Richard Foster, estimated that the $5 billion earmarked to run the subsidized insurance pools could run out as early as 2011, and the CBO estimated that it would require $5-10 billion in additional funding in order to run as intended. Where's that extra money going to come from? So far, the department of Health and Human Services, which is charged with implementing the program, has refused to say. But it looks like their most recent round of regulations gives them the power to cut benefits and raise prices:

At this time, HHS has not indicated how it might exercise its authority to close a deficit in the program. But the interim final rule issued on July 30 would permit adjustments to premiums, changes in the benefits the plans would be required to offer, limits on new applications, and other measures to limit program costs. These steps would probably reduce the number of individuals receiving coverage under the program.

The promise with this program was that those with preexisting conditions could get coverage quickly and that it would be affordable—pegged to insurance rates within a state. Seems as if HHS is aware that, without additional funding, it can't afford to keep that promise—and quietly reserving the right to change the terms of its deal.