Critics doubt McCain health plan costs

July 9, 2008 at 10:07 AM
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WASHINGTON, July 9 (UPI) -- Healthcare experts are questioning the feasibility of likely Republican U.S. presidential nominee John McCain's plan to subsidize high-risk insurance pools.

Such state-run, high-risk pools are used by 35 states as stop-gap measures to provide health insurance for about 207,000 people who otherwise cannot obtain coverage from private insurers. In April, McCain, R-Ariz., announced that if elected president he would expand federal support for state high-risk pools or create a structure modeled after them, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

But skeptics say it would take far more than the $10 billion McCain foresees the program as costing.

His proposal would be a huge increase over the $50 million per year that Congress appropriates in grants to the state pools. But some analysts told the newspaper they question whether even $10 billion would be nearly enough, given that the states spend about $2 billion to insure 207,000 people.

"I do not for a minute think it will cost 7 to 10 billion dollars a year," Karen Pollitz, a Georgetown University professor who has studied high-risk pools, told the Post. "It may cost 7 to 10 billion dollars a week."

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