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High Risk Pool Moving Rapidly Through Legislature

Most of us know at least one person who has been denied health coverage because they have diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, a history of cancer or some other pre-existing condition. Fortunately, federal health reform included “guaranteed issue and renewability,” requirements that insurers accept applicants regardless of medical condition; however, those policies only begin in 2014.

Between now and then, the federal government has allotted five billion dollars for individuals with one or more chronic conditions who have been uninsured for at least six months. California stands to receive $761 million per year from the federal government for coverage of this population throughout the state. The law allows states to set up new high risk pools, expand existing ones, or allow the federal government to assume the responsibility.

Read more on the high risk pool:
ITUP’s Analysis and Recommendations
Federal Department of Health and Human Services Fact Sheet
Questions About the High-Risk Pool from Kaiser Family Foundation
Secretary of Health and Human Services Letter to Governors

In Sacramento, there are two bills are rapidly moving through the legislature that would establish a new pool. Assembly Bill 1887 (Villines) would allow California to draw down the $761 million starting July 1. A sister bill, Senate Bill 227 (Alquist) mandates that health plans notify denied individuals of the temporary high risk pool or pay a fee to support the pool. By allowing California to run it’s own high risk pool, the state can allow for a more local, appropriately tailored and controlled pool, while bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars to support the state’s high risk uninsured.

The Legislature is likely to vote on the bills in the next two weeks.

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