The government of Texas under Republican Gov. Rick Perry quietly began to shut down its high risk insurance pool program this week and urged users to enroll in the health care programs offered to people with pre-existing conditions under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — also known as Obamacare. Think Progress reported that the high risk pool website now directs applicants to the ACA health care exchanges and informs users that the state program will be phased out entirely by January 1, 2014.
“The state has deemed the high-risk pool obsolete,” the website now says, “as the Affordable Care Act prohibits insurance companies participating in the federal marketplace, which launched on Oct. 1, from denying coverage to Texans with pre-existing conditions. Gov. Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 1367 in June, scheduling the pool’s abolishment.”
It stated, “The pool will close Jan. 1, and the 23,000 people currently participating in the pool must sign up for coverage on the insurance exchange by Dec. 15 or find coverage elsewhere to avoid a lapse in care.”
According to the Texas Tribune, since 1998, the high risk pool “has provided high-priced coverage to Texans with pre-existing conditions who can’t find coverage elsewhere.”
Stacey Pogue, a senior policy analyst for the Center for Public Policy Priorities, told the Tribune, “I think that people are going to have many more options and many better options in the marketplace than they do in the health pool today.”
Insurance policies offered in the federal marketplaces are expected to be half of what families enrolled in the high risk pool have been paying. Also, Pogue said that consumers will have access under the new policies to care not provided under the risk pools, like maternity and pre-natal care.
“If this heath care law is forced upon this country, the young men and women in this audience are the ones who are really going to pay the price,” said Perry to a crowd at a fundraiser for New Jersey Republican Senatorial hopeful Steve Lonegan. “And that, I suggest to you, reaches the point of being a felony toward them and their future.”
“That is a criminal act,” Perry continued. “From my perspective, to put that type of burden on them — to mortgage their future like that. America cannot stand that.”
Lonegan lost his bid for a Senate seat to his Democratic rival, Newark’s Mayor Cory Booker.
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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