By Mike Lillis - 06/28/10 03:42 PM EDT
Republicans on Monday continued to skewer the White House over the creation of temporary insurance pools for sicker Americans.
The office of Rep. Dave Camp (Mich.), senior Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, said the program is "woefully underfunded," threatening health coverage for hundreds of thousands of patients.
The state-based pools were included in the Democrats' new health reform law to cover those with pre-existing conditions before insurance exchanges take off in 2014. The pools were supposed to be created by last Monday, but are running behind schedule.
Republicans, who voted nearly unanimously against the bill in March, have been quick to question the effectiveness of the pools. Fueling the attacks, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) last week found that the pools will cost more and cover fewer people than Democrats have claimed. The CBO estimated that the $5 billion allotted by the health reform law will likely run dry before 2013. Medicare's actuaries have said the funding could be exhausted even sooner.
Many states are eager to launch the program, but have said they could freeze enrollment if the funding runs dry. Camp's office said Monday that the White House has "overhyped" the pools "in an effort to boost low approval ratings for its healthcare law."
Last week, 28 Senate Republicans wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius with the same concerns, arguing that the CBO findings are proof that the pools "will fail to provide the assistance promised by supporters of the new law."
The letter was spearheaded by Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.), the senior Republican on the Senate Health Committee.