While Gov. Pawlenty may try, he can’t keep all new federal health care dollars out of Minnesota. Despite opting the state out of health care overhaul’s initial programs, the federal Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan does now exist for Minnesotans. However, fearful of the bogeyman of “federal government overreach” Pawlenty decided not to combine the new federal plan with the current high-risk pool in the state, the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association. It is a privately run non-profit entity, established by Legislature and funded by premiums and other insurers.
Nonetheless, Minnesotans who have been previously denied health insurance and have gone without for more than six month can indeed apply for PCIP to cover a broad range of health benefits, including primary and specialty care, hospital care, and prescription drugs. The federal government is running the plan in Minnesota as a stop-gap measure until 2014 when insurers can no longer deny anyone coverage because of health issues. And PCIP might cost less for some than MCHA which, by law, must charge 101-125 percent more than the weighted average for comparable policies.
It was a good idea to make insurers cover those who likely need insurance most, not just fight over low-risk patients. While it’s short of universal coverage, PCIP does widen access for uninsured at a price more affordable than what already existed. MCHA and Gov. Pawlenty did have legitimate concerns that the federal program was underfunded, as Congress appropriated only $5 billion for the program nationwide. Still, the conservatives can’t have it both ways, fighting government spending and then attacking a program for being underfunded. In this logic, $5 billion is both too much and too little.
To put this all in perspective, monthly U.S. spending in Iraq was $7.3 billion as of Oct 2009, according to the Congressional Research Service. Also, echoing my previous blog about inadequate oversight, lets look at the $9 billion in U.S. taxpayers’ money which has been “Lost & Unaccounted for in Iraq.” As a nation, we can afford adequate health care for all, we just need to quit squandering our resources on misplaced priorities and on our current inefficient and inadequate system.