Obama Didn’t Exactly Adopt McCain’s Proposal on High Risk Pools

By Jacqueline Klingebiel

Sep 10, 2009 7:18am

ABC News' Teddy Davis reports: The newest part of Obama's speech on health care reform may have been the president calling for the creation of a high risk pool for people with preexisting conditions. Obama presented this as a McCain proposal from the 2008 campaign. "For those Americans who can't get insurance today because they have pre-existing medical conditions, we will immediately offer low-cost coverage that will protect you against financial ruin if you become seriously ill. This was a good idea when Senator John McCain proposed it in the campaign, it's a good idea now, and we should embrace it," said Obama. Based on the president's remarks, one would be forgiven for thinking that Obamas proposal on this subject is identical to McCain's. It's not. McCain's proposal called for providing federal assistance to state-based high risk pools. Obama, by contrast, is calling for a national high risk pool, according to a White House document posted on-line which outlines the president's plan.. Sensing the discepancy between the McCain and Obama proposals, an RNC official charged that Obama is "being misleading when he says this was a McCain idea." "McCain’s idea was STATE-level high risk pools," said the RNC official.  "Obama wants more Federal government takeover." While the RNC is right to point out the discrepancy, there is a potential upside to Obama's proposal. By doing the risk pool at the federal level, it eliminates the risk that the program will become an unfunded mandate on the states. Currently, over 30 states have high risk pools. They have struggled, however, to provide affordable insurance due to underfunding, according to Karen Pollitz, a health policy expert at Georgetown University.

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