by John Grooms
North Carolina is one of only four Southern states that will participate in the high-risk insurance pools designed to help Americans who cannot get affordable health insurance because of pre-existing conditions. On July 1, the health care reform law will start providing temporary coverage to such patients (or at least it's supposed to - some accounts say it will be autumn before they're up and running). The plan is to fill the gap between 2010 and 2014, when insurers will be prohibited from rejecting people or charging higher premiums based on pre-existing conditions. In the South, all states except N.C., Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kentucky have opted out of joining the feds in establishing the high-risk pools.
Each state has four choices: 1. participate in the pool; 2. build on its existing high-risk pool if it has one; 3. set up a separate, state-based pool with federal funding; or 4. do nothing, at which point the feds would come in and administer the program. ThinkProgress asks two relevant questions: First, if the states cant find enough dollars to cover the uninsured for three and a half years, how ... would they have enough money to develop reform on a state level, as Republicans argue they should? And second, why are these mostly conservative states relying on the federal government to cover the uninsurable population?
Here is a map, courtesy of ThinkProgress, showing states positions on high-risk pool participation: