HHS to Lower Premiums for High-Risk Pools

The Health and Human Services Department (HHS) announced new steps Tuesday to bolster enrollment in insurance pools for sick people, which have come under fire from Republicans after falling short of their enrollment goals. The department announced that it is cutting premiums and easing eligibility criteria for the high-risk pools. HHS administers the high-risk pools in 23 states; the rest are state-run. The department plans to lower premiums in 18 of those 23 states – some by as much as 40 percent. The changes will bring premiums “closer to the rates in each state’s individual insurance market,” HHS stated in a release. High premiums were cited as part of the reason that the high-risk pools didn’t enroll as many people as expected. The plans were designed as a “bridge” to 2014, when new insurance exchanges under the healthcare reform law will be in place.

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