U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd sent a letter to Gov. M. Jodi Rell Friday expressing his concern about her hesitation to allow the state to enroll in a new federally-funded health insurance program for individuals with pre-existing conditions.
At Rell’s direction the Department of Social Services has delayed signing a contract with the federal Health and Human Services Department that will allow it to set up a federally-funded state insurance pool for high risk individuals.
In a letter to DSS Commissioner Michael Starkowski and Cristine Vogel, deputy commissioner of the Department of Public Health, Rell said the projected premiums of $436 per month for adults under 30 and nearly $1,500 per month for adults 65 and older, are “beyond the reach of ordinary Connecticut citizens with pre-existing conditions.”
Holding up her Charter Oak Health Plan as an example, Rell said the federal government’s Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan, is “contrary to my administration’s goal of providing access to affordable health care coverage.”
Under Rell’s Charter Oak Health Plan, which covers uninsured adults with pre-existing conditions, the monthly premiums range from $129 to $307 per month. The state subsidizes the Charter Oak Health Plan, which was introduced in August 2008 and requires individuals to be uninsured for up to six months before they apply.
In the past the Charter Oak Health Plan has received a fair amount of criticism for the number of doctors signed up to take patients on the plan. However, things have improved as the network of doctors has been expanded by the Managed Care Organizations the state pays to administer the plan.
In his letter to Rell, Dodd expressed his concern with her decision to wait until July 15 to decide whether to move forward with the federally-funded Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan. He said the state was expected to receive $50 million in federal funds to administer the program.
“The state’s late announcement raises several questions about its true intentions,” Dodd wrote in his July 2 letter to Rell. “Individuals enrolled in this plan by July 15th will begin receiving coverage by August 1, 2010. Therefore, in my view, it is critical that you make a final decision prior to July 15.”
But state officials including Rell will be proceeding with caution.
Rell has instructed Starkowski and Vogel to review the federal program before moving forward with it.
According to the new website, Healthcare.gov, Connecticut’s premium amount in the program has yet to be determined, but deductibles for the program range from $1,250 in-network to $3,000 out-of-network with an out-of-pocket limit of $4,250 in-network and $15,000 out-of-network. The prescription drug deductible is $250.
And as in the Charter Oak Health Plan, individuals have to be uninsured for six months to join the federal Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan. Unlike the Charter Oak Health Plan, individuals wishing to join the federal plan will need to have a pre-existing condition or have been denied health coverage because of that health condition.
There are 28 states and the District of Columbia which have opted to run the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan on their own, while 21 states will leave it up to the federal government to run their plans for them.