Sanford rejects high-risk pool as part of health reform

By Chelsea Hadaway
Published April 30, 2010

States have until today to decide whether they will create their own high-risk insurance pool or let the federal government handle it, and Gov. Mark Sanford announced today that South Carolina will not set up this additional pool.

“What this represents is another unfunded mandate,” Sanford said today at a news conference outside of Doctors Care in Mount Pleasant.

Gov. Mark Sanford talks about health care reform and high-risk pools during a news conference in Mount Pleasant on April 30, 2010. (Photo/Leslie HalpernUntil health insurance companies must accept all applicants in 2014, people with pre-existing conditions will be able to enroll in high-risk insurance pools run by either the state or the federal government.

The recently passed health care reform bill set aside $5 billion to help fund these high-risk pools until the insurance regulations take effect.

The actuaries at the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services appropriated $74 million to South Carolina to fund the pool if the state decided to set one up, Sanford said. The agency estimated this amount would be enough for one to two years, so the state would have to fund the remaining year, he said.

“The idea of adding another unfunded mandate is dangerous,” Sanford said.

In addition, it would be unfair to the people already in the state’s high-risk pool who have been doing the right thing all along, he said. There are about 2,000 people already in South Carolina’s pool, and they would not be eligible for the subsidy for this new pool.

Sanford predicts that people already in the pool will withdraw and go without health insurance for six months in order to be eligible for the federal high-risk pool and accompanying subsidy.

Georgia, Wyoming, Nebraska, Nevada, Indiana, Mississippi and Louisiana have already decided they will not run their own high-risk pools as part of this program.

Reach Chelsea Hadaway at 843-849-3142.

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Added: 30 Apr 2010

Congrats to Gov Sanford for once again doing the right thing for SC residents.