(KCPW News) Governor Gary Herbert has decided to have the state manage the high-risk insurance pool mandated by the federal health care reform law passed earlier this year. He made the announcement this morning at his monthly news conference on KUED.
“I think it’s prudent for the taxpayers that with $40 million being on the table on a temporary program – it’s really a three-year program, it expires December 31, 2013 – that we have the ability in Utah, uniquely so, to spend the money more efficiently than the federal government,” he said.
Health reform advocates had urged the governor to take this option, though some Republican legislators wanted the state to stay out of it.
The governor says the fact that the state already has a high-risk pool will allow it to run the new pool more efficiently than the federal government.
“We don’t have to re-invent the wheel. We’ve already got it going,” said Herbert. “We’ll have to hire one additional person for about $40,000 to run the federal program as a parallel program, and we believe we’ll insure about 575 more people by us administering the program than if we have the federal government, who has to start a new bureaucracy in Utah and use it as a national provider.”
The federal high risk pool will dissolve at the end of 2013, because after that, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.