Health & Human Services

In Case HealthCare.Gov Problems Persist, States Take Action to Keep People Covered

November 8, 2013

The Obama administration’s high-wire act to repair HealthCare.gov now includes a safety net: the states.

States such as Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa are trying to insulate residents from potential dropped health insurance coverage. Worried that the Obamacare tech woes could persist long enough to leave people — including vulnerable populations — uncovered Jan. 1, they’re extending some existing insurance programs, severing their enrollment systems from the feds, and seeking greater protections for people who might be stuck if the website isn’t working as promised by the end of November.

Indiana has already put millions of state dollars on the line to cover 6,800 of its sickest residents through January. These people were supposed to leave a longstanding state“high-risk” insurance pool and have access to new Obamacare insurance options — but without a functioning enrollment system, they could be cut off Jan. 1.

“The State of Indiana will ensure that these Hoosiers, who are facing significant health care challenges, maintain their health coverage until the problems with the federal Marketplace are resolved,” Gov. Mike Pence said in a statement. “While problems enrolling are an inconvenience to some, they could be a matter of life and death for these Hoosiers.”

Some of those high-risk patients, Pence pointed out, are struggling to schedule 2014 medical appointments without proof of future insurance coverage.

In Detroit, officials have delayed for a month a plan to cut health care for 7,500 early retirees and put them into the Obamacare exchanges, according to local news reports.

In Iowa, Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, is touting his administration’s moves to extend a farm bureau insurance program for 70,000 residents through 2014. He’s also worked with Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield to preserve coverage for residents through next year.

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