Bloggers chatter about the high-risk pool program that began enrollment Thursday and react to the Department of Health and Human Services’ new consumer web portal, healthcare.gov.
Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey examines that the high-risk pools may be under-funded, declaring: “As this demonstrates, Congress had no clear idea of actual costs or complications in the program. It should never have passed in the first place, but this key issue shows what happens when government attempts to run a business sector without having any expertise in it.”
Austin Frakt of the Incidental Economist, who estimated that up to 1 million people likely eligible for such pools, is puzzled by the way Congress designed the benefit:
Frankly, I’m surprised the Democrats got themselves into this pickle. The high-risk pools are one of the first things the new law creates. You want the early stuff to be successful. You don’t want to have to admit you blew it. Even if they had put $25 billion into the pools that would have hardly changed the total spending in the bill (close to $1 trillion). Why were they so stingy?
My guess is they’ll sneak a payment increase into some other bill, bury it among all sorts of tweaks, and pay for it with a tiny cut to something else (or claim as much). Nevertheless, it was a silly mistake. Or am I missing something?
AEI’s Tom Miller and James Capretta think the high-risk pool program is a harbinger: “It misrepresents the real problem, promises more than it can deliver, tries to hide the real costs, and gives sensible reforms a bad name—all because the administration is more committed to its long-term vision of central government control than to actually building a sustainable solution.”
Insure Blog’s Bob Vineyard notes the ambiguity listed online in terms of what the plans cover and how much they cost, and says: “The folks in DC have allocated $5 billion to this fund. Even given you don’t know what kind of coverage you will get or how much it will cost, $5 billion could fall short just like Cars 4 Clunkers.”
Jonathan Cohn, on his new Citizen Cohn blog, weighs in: “putting together and presenting this much material after just three months strikes me as impressive. And that’s a positive sign about more than just health care reform. Sometimes government fails, as it did (spectacularly) with the oversight of offshore oil drilling. But sometimes government works really well.”
On NPR’s Shots Blog, KHN’s Mary Agnes Carey notes that insurers are displeased with certain ways in which some information is cast and communicated: “America’s Health Insurance Plans is especially angry about a graphic located in the timeline section of the site, discussing what the law means for the Medicare Advantage program — the program where the government pays insurers to offer additional coverage to Medicare recipients.” The graphic reads, “Stopping Overpayments to Big Insurance Companies.”
Time’s Kate Pickert writes, “Some critics of the health care law and the Obama Administration will no doubt scoff at healthcare.gov, but they shouldn’t. There’s nothing wrong with helping Americans find out more about what their insurance options. This means more accountability and a more competitive marketplace.”
Dawn Horner of Say Ahhh! says the site isn’t “quite Amazon yet” but notes, “This is light years away from what exists today for families shopping for health coverage. But there still is a ways to go — once families are provided with the list of options, they have to navigate through a number of links, and ultimately, leave the site to find more information and apply for coverage.”
You can watch a virtual video tour of the site posted by HHS on YouTube: