Now that Obama’s CLASS Act has crashed and burned, you may be wondering what ever happened to his much-vaunted high-risk pools.
The administration has not been making much of it — a sure sign that it must be failing. And so it is. On October 14 it posted the enrollment data as of August 31, 2011. It turns out that 13 months after the pools went into effect, 33,958 people had enrolled, less than 10% of the 375,000 CMS predicted would be enrolled by the end of 2010.
It is not for lack of effort. In July of this year, CMS cut premiums “significantly” in the 24 states where the Feds run the programs to encourage enrollment, according to the official web site. Yet, curiously, of the 5 states with the largest enrollment — Pennsylvania (3,936), California (3,368), Texas (2,650). North Carolina (2,146), and New York (1,998), only Texas is federally run.
At least in failing, the Feds haven’t spent as much money as it intended to. The GAO issued a report in July that noted the program has spend only 2% of the $5 billion that had been budgeted.
Now some of us suggested that rather than creating a whole new program, the Feds should have simply provided financial aid to the state risk pools that were already in existence. These state pools had the distinct advantage of not requiring applicants to be uninsured for six months prior to enrollment. But the administration could not imagine that the states could do anything better than it could, so it insisted on reinventing a wheel — poorly.