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Gerry Clinchy
06-30-2010, 07:40 PM
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100629/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_health_overhaul_pre_existing_conditions



WASHINGTON The Obama administration is launching a special coverage program for uninsured Americans with medical problems this week, the most ambitious early investment of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100629/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_health_overhaul_pre_existing_conditions#).

But here's the catch: Premiums will be a stretch for many, even after government subsidies to bring rates close to what healthier groups of people are charged.

And $5 billion that Congress allocated to the program through 2013 could run out well before that.[/QUOTE]

[QUOTE]
Millions fit that description, and technical experts who advise Congress and the administration have repeatedly warned that the White House lowballed the cost.

The Congressional Budget Office said last week it would take probably another $5 billion to $10 billion to fully meet the demand, about 700,000 people who would potentially sign up by 2013.
[Being off by 100% to 200% is an understatment for "low ball". Can hardly wait to see how badly the rest of it has been under-estimated]

Medicare economists earlier estimated the program would sign up 375,000 people this year, but run out of money around the end of 2011.

That would be an embarrassment for Obama, since the program is a centerpiece of his plan for putting the nation on a path to coverage for all.




To make matters more confusing, most states already operate their own high-risk insurance pools, covering about 200,000 people in total. However, the state plans tend to charge significantly higher premiums than the new federal plan, and many offer skimpier coverage.

Consumers will not be able to switch from state to federal coverage unless they're willing to risk going six months without health insurance.

Worries about unfunded costs prompted many states to shy away from taking on the new program directly, even though Washington has promised to cover the cost.





It's unclear what the administration and its supporters will do if the money runs out.
"Once you have a significant number of people in each state who gain the benefit of the new coverage, it will be a difficult decision for a member of Congress to say that needed funds will not be provided," said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100629/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_health_overhaul_pre_existing_conditions#), a health care advocacy group.