Commentary by Missouri State Senator Gary Nodler (R-32 representing the people of Newton, Jasper and Dade counties)
Consequences of federal healthcare already is felt
One of the first programs approved in the federal healthcare bill will begin July 1, but many of the Missourians that could have benefited from the program will be left paying higher premiums because of the way the law is written. The program is a federally run high-risk insurance pool that would allow patients with pre-existing medical conditions to qualify for affordable insurance. However, since Missouri already has a similar program, some in the state are being blocked from accessing the federal version.
The Missouri Health Insurance Pool (MHIP) was established in 1991. The program offers individual health coverage to those high-risk individuals who cannot otherwise get health insurance. The pool is managed by the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions, and Professional Registration and receives some federal and state funding. Individuals pay premiums to cover the remaining costs of the pool, which amount to about 150 percent of the state average premium. For example, a 44-year-old man with a $500 deductable pays a rate of $683. Our state’s insurance pool covers about 3,000 Missourians who would not otherwise be able to qualify for health insurance.
A new lower-cost federal program will begin on July 1. This program, using $5 billion in taxpayer dollars, offers premiums at a standard rate in an effort to offer affordable insurance to more Americans that are otherwise unable to become insured. Missouri is set to receive $81 million in federal funds to implement the program. However, since the law specifies that eligible patients have to have been uninsured for the previous six months before applying for coverage, Missourians currently covered by MHIP are excluded. This effectively penalizes these individuals who have been paying to maintain their coverage. There are 35 states facing similar problems because of their own state high-risk pool programs.
When looking at the federal healthcare bill, there is no lack of concern for the future. The escalating costs of mandated healthcare, the cost of Medicaid expansion on the states, and the concerns of many Americans that do not want to see their healthcare freedom infringed upon have come to light since Congress began discussing the bill. However, this issue will affect thousands of Missourians within a month. The consequences of the federal healthcare bill are already clear for these citizens, and I fear we will continue to see the negative effects of this legislation as time goes on.