Early harbingers of the health care fiasco

The idea of a high-risk insurance pool for those with pre-existing conditions is too good to be swallowed up in the morass called Obamacare. We already had 35 state programs to consider and incorporate into a proven and workable national plan - but politics dictated haste over thoughtful consideration.

One of the early features of Obamacare is the state-administered and federal-funded (for the first 5 billion) high-risk insurance pool. It will insure those turned down by pre-existing conditions. It starts this July.

Is everybody on board?

12 states will let the feds administer the program - in case the 5 billion budget disappears before 2014 (it will). 22 states will try it themselves - that's 22 variations on the rules that congress didn't read before they passed it. 16 more states haven't decided. 35 states already had some kind of program for those at high risk, but Obamacare will require those to toe the new line nobody quite understands yet.

Speaking of which, nobody knows what it will cost or who covers overruns. Well, that will ultimately be us whether state or federal shortfalls, or both. Last month, dozens of states asked who pays when federal funding runs dry . "You could have a handful of people that could literally bankrupt the high-risk pool," said Sumi Sousa, special assistant to Democratic California Assembly Speaker John Perez. "What do we do then? The state's broke."

We have bipartisan agreement on the timing: Republican governors and Democratic governors say they can't implement some of the early provisions quickly enough, nor can they pay for them. And unfortunately that includes the subject insurance pool for pre-existing conditions. How can congress dance with this legislative behemoth for over a year, then expect the states to implement it in a few months?

And the feds have finally owned up to the real state of affairs; HHS spokeswoman Jenny Backus declined to say who pays when the program runs out of money. "I think we need to get the programs up and running before we start speculating," she said.

2500 pages and all we get is "speculation" and trillions in future bills? At least one question for Ms. Backus and her friends, why didn't you true believers craft understandable and workable legislation in the first place?

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