WASHINGTON – Citing financial concerns, the Obama administration Friday began quietly winding down one of the earliest programs created by the president’s health care overhaul, a plan that helps people with medical problems who can’t get private insurance.
In a teleconference with state counterparts, administration officials said the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan will stop taking new applications. People already in the plan will not lose coverage.
Designed as a stopgap solution until the law’s full consumer protections are in effect next year, PCIP is currently serving more than 100,000 people, a lifeline for patients with serious medical problems such as cancer and heart failure. But Congress allocated a limited amount of money, and the administration’s technical experts want to make sure it doesn’t run out.
The plan covers people who have had problems getting private insurance because of a medical condition and have been uninsured for at least six months.
Starting next Jan. 1, insurance companies will no longer be able to turn anyone away because of poor health. At the same time, the federal government will begin subsidizing coverage for millions of individuals who have no access to employer plans.
That means many of the people currently in the PCIP program may end up with lower premiums once the government’s financial help is factored in.