Gov. Rick Perry sent a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius notifying her that the State of Texas cannot today commit to operating a new temporary high-risk pool program due to the lack of program rules or reliable federal funding.
"After careful analysis of the new law, consultation with state health and insurance officials and communications with state lawmakers and HHS, the State of Texas cannot today commit to operating the new high-risk pool due to the lack of program rules or reliable federal funding," Gov. Perry said. "I do not believe the aggressive implementation and the lack of assurances on financial solvency of the program are in the best interest of Texas taxpayers, families, patients or health care providers."
The governor cited concerns with many unanswered questions relating to the implementation of both federal health care reform and the temporary high-risk pool program, such as the absence of key contract terms and passage of federal rules and covenants to ensure financial solvency so that taxpayers and state revenue systems are held harmless.
While Congress has committed $5 billion to operating these risk pools in all 50 states for at least four years, most experts believe this amount to be insufficient. In the coming years, state officials could be forced to reduce health coverage, raise premiums or ask state taxpayers to pay for these high-risk pools once the federal funds run dry.