Pennsylvania will not set up its own state-based health insurance exchange under the new health care law, Gov. Tom Corbett announced Wednesday.
“I have decided not to pursue a state-based health insurance exchange at this time. It would be irresponsible to put Pennsylvanians on the hook for an unknown amount of money to operate a system under rules that have not been fully written,” he said.
Pa. is the 28th state to decline federal funds to enact the plan, a key component of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.
The deadline for a decision on the plan is Friday, but Corbett said too many details were yet outstanding. He blamed President Obama’s administration, namely Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
“Healthcare reform is too important to be achieved through haphazard planning. Pennsylvania taxpayers and businesses deserve more. They deserve informed decision making and a strong plan that responsibly uses taxpayer dollars,” he said.
He added that he’s still seeking more details as he examines the law’s proposed expansion of Medicaid.
The move opens the door for the federal government to set up its own version of the exchange for Pa.
His move prompted celebration from conservative activists who have been lobbying against a state-based exchange, noting that accompanying federal funds would be only temporary.
“Federal funds are flowing freely to buy state compliance, but state budgets will take the hit in two short years. Governor Corbett showed real leadership in rejecting these temporary funds,” said Jennifer Stefano, Pennsylvania state director of Americans for Prosperity. “Creating an exchange puts state taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars every year. States should reject these bloated bureaucracies.”
AFP actually announced its support for Corbett’s decision before it was made public, as the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Amy Worden noted.
Update: Conservatives aren’t the only ones celebrating. Liberal blogger Jon Geeting of Keystone Politics wrote of the news, in part:
From the Democrats’ point of view, this is great news. This is likely the high water mark for Republican control of state government, and if they had decided to design the state insurance exchange regulations they could’ve done a lot of damage to the cause of universal health care. They could’ve really fragmented the insurance market, they could’ve passed a really stingy essential benefits package, they could’ve written really weak consumer protection rules, etc. Now Obama’s HHS is going to be in charge of all those details, and Pennsylvanians will have access to the sort of well-designed insurance exchange Obama and the Democrats intended.