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Obamacare’s first step

At the “close of business” on Friday, we should get a better understanding of what the states think about the prospects of Obamacare.  This is because the states have until Friday to decide whether to be a part of the government’s high risk pools.

This piece of Obamacare is scheduled to be implemented 90 days after the passage of the bill, or, approximately, June 21, and, it is designed to provide insurance to people with pre-existing conditions who otherwise are unable to obtain insurance.  The program will last until 2014 when the insurance exchanges open, and, it is funded with $5 billion to cover the cost of the insurance.

So far, at least Georgia and Nebraska have declined to participate, and many other states, including Kansas (Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s home state) are leaning toward “opting out”.  Why would they opt out?  What follows are two compelling reasons.

First, although the program is funded with $5 billion to cover the cost until 2014, Richard Foster, the chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid,

reported last week that the high-risk program will run out of money next year or in 2012.

What happens then?  Well, the states are left holding the bag.

And, second, the states can’t get any information about what federal mandates will be placed on the program from the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

HHS will draft the program’s rules only after states decide whether to sign up.

Where I come from, that’s called “buying a pig in a poke”.  And, Georgia’s insurance commissioner, John Oxendine agrees.

…[H]e feared that the high-risk pools would “ultimately become the financial responsibility of Georgians in the form of an unfunded mandate.”

This is not shaping up as a good beginning for Obamacare.