Health Care In The States

HHS Delays Basic Health Plan Option Until 2015

By Phil Galewitz

February 7th, 2013, 5:58 AM

The Obama administration has delayed by one year the rollout of a health program aimed at low to moderate-income people who won’t qualify for the expanded Medicaid program under the federal health law.

Under the so-called Basic Health Program, some states had planned to offer government insurance to people who don’t qualify for Medicaid, but who would be hard pressed — even with federal subsidies — to afford the premiums and cost-sharing of plans offered in the new insurance marketplaces. Those earning up to twice the federal poverty level, or about $47,000 for a family of four, would have been eligible.

The Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday said it basically ran out of time to put out guidelines to get the program running by 2014.

“HHS expects to issue proposed rules regarding the Basic Health Program for comment in 2013 and final guidance in 2014, so that the program will be operational beginning in 2015 for states interested in pursuing this option.”

HHS said it will work with states to have the program available in 2015 and help states continue efforts to help people get coverage who don’t qualify for Medicaid.

Proponents of the Basic Health Program idea maintain that having such a plan would make coverage more affordable by offering lower cost-sharing.

Washington, Minnesota, Iowa and New York are scheduled to end their programs later this year because it was assumed beneficiaries would get coverage through the health law. Massachusetts’ program will expire in June.

Another advantage of the basic health program is that people won’t have to worry about paying the government back if their incomes increase during the year in which they are enrolled, while people getting subsidies could face that prospect.

“We see this as good news because we have a clear commitment that BHP funding will be available in 2015, as well as a commitment that the federal government will work with us to continue MinnesotaCare through 2014 until BHP funding becomes available,” said Jeremy Drucker, spokesman for Minnesota Department of Human Services. About 130,000 people are enrolled in MinnesotaCare, which is scheduled to end in December.

15 Responses to “HHS Delays Basic Health Plan Option Until 2015”

  1. Contrarian says:

    To work with the states is just another unplanned cost. I just finished reading an article that the OMB has stated Obamacare will require over 100 million new workhours of service annually.

    Yet we keep getting people like Mr. Drucker talking about the federal gov’t working with them, WE THE PEOPLE ARE THE FEDERAL GOV’T.

    I’m beginning to wonder if those kindhearted people who wish to spend money from the US Treasury have ever considered that at some point those of us paying taxes will continue to become a smaller number and the “entitlement” group will grow. Our nations ability to borrow money from other nations is dwindling but this time the takers are willing to listen to the alarm warnings.

  2. I wonder how much the various state decisions (1) not to expand Medicaid and (2) not to implement exchanges played into this delay. You have the combination of those decisions, plus federal budget cuts, it’s no wonder HHS ran out of time on this one. I wonder how much the inability to offer this option will impact the employer play or pay penalties. I guess we’ll see.

  3. Killroy71 says:

    So, HHS ran out of time, eh….wonder if they’ll show any mercy to states and insurers who are having similar difficulty grappling with rules being issued too late for them to implement…oh, time is running out all right…

  4. Martha says:

    I am an independent agent who believes “less is more”, so I advocated, enrolling Pt-D on for “zero” commissions. In doing so, there was a pleasant and profitable side effect, Beneficiaries asked me about Medicare Supplements. Fast forward now to ACA, I am just trying to understand “who” will play in this new Marketplace, and “what” might be offered, and “when” do we pass GO. I thought there were to be BHP funded by the Federal Gov (maybe that was to be the “Silver Plan”) and QHP. This feels like the old Monopoly Game and someone just snatched Broadway from the board game, and noone, but noone can find the Game Rules. Take away the BHP and I think you have just disrupted the States who committed to a State Exchange Plan. Can QHP go forward? Where is the moderator?

  5. Mona Shaw says:

    This is an outrage no matter what’s behind it. People were counting on this, and some will die because of this delay. It’s an outrage.

  6. Steve says:

    So what’s New York going to do now about “Healthy New York”? Extend it for another year, drop it anyway in favor of the exchanges? I understand the “subsidy” takes the form of a tax credit, how can people afford to lay out $500 /$600 every month while waiting around for a “Tax Credit” at the end of the year? This is gonna be a big mess, all you’ll see is people accumulating “penalties”, going without coverage and becoming indentures of the state. I think Obama wants this entire plan to be such a train wreck that the people will cave in and accept the single payer option by default.

  7. Well, only those who truly needed the program will die, so what’s not to like?

  8. Steve:
    I doubt that was the reason behind it. If it was, it would have been some serious 11-D chess.

  9. Contrarian:
    Need I remind you that ObamaCare is basically what Willard signed into law during his time as Massachusetts Governor. It’s also what Heritage(the right-wing think tank) came up with 20, or so, years ago as the GOP alternative to HillaryCare(remember that?!?). Thirdly, what “entitlements” are you talking about? Social Security? Medicare? Something else?

  10. Stevan says:

    But what we really need is to drop the whole charade of the ‘health care industry’ and put all the effort into a single payer plan. The ACA is nothing but joke without the humor.

  11. Carla says:

    Steve: “I think Obama wants this entire plan to be such a train wreck that the people will cave in and accept the single payer option by default.” I doubt you are correct, but would settle for the result.

    I agree with Stevan: expanded and improved Medicare for All. YESTERDAY.

  12. Westcoastliberal says:

    Seems to me a ton of taxpayer money is being wasted in order to ensure the profitability of the private health insurance companies. Would it not make more sense to just expand Medicare into a single-payer program? The infrastructure is already there. The alternative may look like this:

  13. Jonathan says:

    Westcoastliberal, there is a certain mainstream narrative stating that the USian system was designed not to work well. That this narrative is craven and disingenuous should be clearly evident by that the system works to elite benefit quite consistently and successfully, and that elite apologists and wannabes always have ready some sort of poorly baked excuse for why this is right and holy.

  14. Veri says:

    If you think this is bad, you haven’t seen anything yet about ACA:

    A detailed and heavy text about just how ACA is a scam. And not the usual Right Wing tripe. Not RW at all.

  15. Note to Contrarian:

    You said, ” . . . at some point those of us paying taxes will continue to become a smaller number and the “entitlement” group will grow.”

    If you understood Monetary Sovereignty, you would know that FEDERAL TAXES DO NOT PAY FOR FEDERAL SPENDING.

    Sorry for shouting, I when people claim that federal spending will cost taxpayers money. It doesn’t. Even if federal taxes fell to $0, this would not affect the government’s ability to spend, by even $1.

    Now, knowing that Medicare and Social Security cost you nothing, do you feel better?

    “But,” you say, “I pay FICA, and FICA pays for SS & Medicare.” Wrong. FICA pays for nothing. It is a 100% useless tax as are federal income taxes. FEDERAL TAXES DO NOT PAY FOR FEDERAL SPENDING.

    Learn Monetary Sovereignty and you’ll get the idea.