U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Friday wrote to states requesting that they report back to her on the creation of special insurance pools aimed at covering Americans with pre-existing conditions, a key part of the federal government's new health care reform legislation.
The move is one of the first concrete steps toward reform coming after President Barack Obama signed the package into law March 23, the Associated Press reported. It is aimed at creating or expanding statewide buying pools focused on uninsured people who have so far been denied coverage because they have a pre-existing medical problem.
"Over the next couple of months, we'll be making a lot of announcements just like this," Sebelius said in a Friday news conference. "The law the president signed was carefully written to get benefits to Americans as quickly as possible without disrupting or overburdening the health care system."
According to the AP, many of the details of the new insurance pools remain obscure, including who and how many will be eligible, premium costs, and whether the $5 billion allocated for the programs will be sufficient.
The programs are currently available to people who have been without insurance for at least six months, the AP said. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report released in January, more than 200,000 Americans are covered by similar pools already in place in 30 states.