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Murkowski: The More We Learn About the New Health Care Law, the Worse it Gets

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said today that a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate that the health care law’s high risk insurance pools could end up costing up to three times more than what is budgeted for should serve as a preliminary warning to Alaska that federal obligations under the program may not be met

CBO said in a letter to U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming, ranking Republican of the Senate Health Committee, that an additional $5 to $10 billion would be needed to fully fund all eligible enrollees in the high risk pool expansion. Despite assurances from the president that the high risk insurance pools in the new health care law would allow those with pre-existing conditions to have access to health insurance coverage, this has not turned out to be the case. According to the CBO, the high risk pool in the new law will provide coverage to only 200,000 individuals, a fraction of the estimated millions of people with pre-existing conditions.

Under the health care law, the new high risk pool program was supposed to be providing health insurance coverage to Americans beginning this week. However, the federal government has failed to provide any funding for the program and Americans with pre-existing conditions have been unable to enroll in the high risk pools, the CBO said.

“The more we learn, the worse it gets,” Murkowski said. “Study after study confirms what Republicans contended during the long health care debate – that the bill costs far more than Democrats said, and that there would be a myriad of negative unintended consequences.”

Alaska Division of Insurance Director Linda Hall recently sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius informing her that the state intends to submit an application to participate in the high risk pool program “if certain conditions are met” and provided that expenses associated with implementing the pool “must be borne entirely from federal funds.”

“The CBO estimate should serve as a precautionary alert to Alaska that the federal government may not be in a position to properly fund the high risk insurance pool program,” Murkowski said.

Murkowski today signed on to a letter (attached) authored by Sen. Enzi to Secretary Sebelius that questions when the high risk pool funding will be available and how many people will be covered.

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