Obamacare

One Obamacare Program Already Closed to New Applicants

It's out of money

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An early Obamacare program already is running out of money, and the president has decided to close it to new enrollment, leaving out tens of thousands of people who were expecting help.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on legislation that would extend this safety net, the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Program, and it would do so with money from an Obamacare "slush fund."

The Helping Sick Americans Now Act (H.R. 1549) is a win-win. Providing insurance to people with pre-existing conditions was a key motivation for passage of Obamacare in the first place, and the House leadership is right to propose legislation that will continue this coverage.

Allowing the pre-existing-conditions pool to accept applicants will make delaying the implementation of the exchanges more feasible, just as such a delay looks increasingly necessary.

Obamacare initially allocated $5 billion for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), which was designed to provide temporary bridge coverage for those most needing insurance until the health law takes full effect in 2014. Katrina Trinko also wrote about the program for NRO, laying out House majority leader Eric Cantor's reasons for supporting its extension.

But the Obama administration has already closed the plan to new customers, saying it needs the remaining funds to cover the medical costs through the end of the year of the 100,000 or so people already enrolled.