The nation's sickest patients will have one more month to transition into Obamacare, thanks to another extension from the administration. The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Program, a temporary insurance pool for "high risk" patients created in 2010, will be extended one more month to accommodate thousands of individuals who haven't switched over to the exchanges, according to The Hill. The program will now run through April 30, and participants will have until April 15 to enroll in a plan for May 1. Without this extension, individuals would have had until tomorrow to enroll in plans for April 1.
As The Wire has explained, PCIP was created by the Affordable Care Act to provide insurance for people who had been denied coverage by big insurers. The program was initially set to expire at the end of last year, but was extended one month at first, and then two more months to March 31. Technical glitches on Healthcare.gov prompted the first extension.
The latest will affect the roughly 21,000 people still in the program across the country. That's down from the estimated 135,000 who were once part of the program, but the administration said it wanted to prevent a gap in coverage for those still enrolled.
Obamacare gives people with pre-existing conditions the same insurance options as everyone else, meaning the 21,000 people in the program should have more private options now than they did before the "high risk" program began. The Wall Street Journal has two theories on why so many people are still in the program. Health experts "speculated" that some people already have new plans but haven't informed the government, or the new plans may be too expensive. One source, a 31-year-old Californian, said that a similar plan would cost her $306 a month, up from $161 — but there's no data on whether that's a widespread problem.
But as far as extensions go — and this is another extension — it will be hard for detractors to criticize. The costs are fairly low, and arguing against very sick people is rarely good politics.