U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) has spent seven months holding up legislation that would provide funding for all state high-risk health insurance pools. An original version of the legislation (S.288) would have left the state of Illinois with far less money than it had been receiving in prior years. Following a compromise reached last Wednesday, Senator Durbin finally lifted his hold on the bill. According to a spokesperson in the Senator’s office, Illinois’ state health insurance pool will now receive an extra $1.6 million a year in federal funds.
Senator Durbin had been arguing that larger states such as Illinois would be hurt by the change while smaller states with significantly lower populations will benefit disproportionately.
State high-risk pools were designed to offer health insurance coverage to people who have been turned down for individual insurance or who were denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition. The congressional funding is aimed not only at encouraging more states to establish high risk pools, but to give existing programs needed assistance to pay for growing costs. At present, there are approximately 30 high-risk pools across the country.
The compromise bill has not yet been scheduled for a vote by the full Senate as details continue to be worked out. The U.S. House of Representatives already passed similar legislation earlier this year.
Source: The Associated Press, September 30, 2005