The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) was set up in the Affordable Care Act as a stop-gap means of providing insurance to those who have been refused by private insurers because of pre-existing conditions. This program was included to cover those people until they'll be able to receive coverage under the new law in 2014. Unfortunately, the PCIP doesn't seem to be working.
The Government Accountability Office reported that the government has so far spent just 2 percent of the $5 billion allocated by the health care reform law for the program, which launched last summer as the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. Administration officials initially said as many as 375,000 people would sign up in 2010 alone.[...]
Officials previously worried that the $5 billion allocation would not last until the program is phased out at the end of 2013, but concern has now shifted to persuading more people to sign up. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lowered premiums and said applicants could provide a doctor's note instead of an insurance company's rejection letter to prove a pre-existing condition. An official said at the time that the agency could do nothing about the six-month requirement because it was written into the law.[...]
Other enrollment obstacles cited by the GAO include a lack of awareness about the program and the cost of premiums, which can be steep in some places. A 50-year-old in Alaska, for instance, has to shell out $1,048 a month.
Health Secretary Sebelius is going to have to figure out something to reduce those barriers and spend the money, by whatever means she can find: further reducing the premiums, finding a way (executive order?) around the six-month waiting period, more outreach, whatever it takes. There's a tremendous need for this coverage, for this money to be spent on the people who need it. There can't be a repeat here of the HAMP fiasco, where money intended to help people in need ends up just going toward deficit reduction.