How Are States Using Federal Aid for High-Risk Pools?

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<p>State high-risk pools provide an alternative source of health coverage for people who, because of a health condition, have trouble obtaining insurance in the individual market. Their importance to the "uninsurable" is the reason Congress, in 2002, initiated federal matching payments to support high-risk pools and expand coverage for the uninsured. But a new Commonwealth Fund-supported study finds that most states receiving matching funds have not used them to make coverage more affordable or accessible.<br><bR>Georgetown University's Karen Pollitz and Eliza Bangit, the authors of <a href="/cnlib/pub/enews_clickthrough.htm?enews_item_id=19718&return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecmwf%2Eorg%2Fpublications%2Fpublications%5Fshow%2Ehtm%3Fdoc%5Fid%3D323089%26%23doc323089">Federal Aid to State High-Risk Pools: Promoting Health Insurance Coverage or Providing Fiscal Relief?,</a> say that, in the program's first year, 18 of 19 states used all or some of their federal grant money to refinance their existing programs--rather than reducing enrollee premiums, expanding covered benefits, or otherwise promoting enrollment.<bR><br>The researchers conclude that policymakers may need to strengthen grant requirements and financial incentives to promote expansion of coverage through high-risk pools.</p>