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Politics & Government

Pennsylvania Will Not Pursue State-Based Health Exchange

Governor Tom Corbett announced on Wednesday that Pennsylvania will not be pursuing a state-based health exchange. The announcement came just days before the federally-set deadline for states to make a decision.

The health exchange, a critical component of The Affordable Care Act, is a type of online government-regulated marketplace where citizens can shop for insurance plans and compare costs and benefits.

States have the choice of operating their own exchanges, operating one with the federal government or allowing the federal government to run their state’s exchange.

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine said the decision to not run a state-based exchange did not come easily.

“The history of our deliberation on this issue goes back to almost the first days of the administration. The Governor had us look at all the options on the table including a state-based exchange. We looked long and hard at the various choices we had and in the end, opting for a federal exchange is the right decision for PA right now,” he said.

In a statement, Governor Tom Corbett said they have too many unanswered questions from the Department of Health and Human Services, mostly around the costs, impact, and flexibility in running an exchange.

“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."  

Therefore, 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 in a statement.

State officials will continue to seek guidance from The Department of Health and Human Services on what the optional Medicaid expansion will entail. The state still has not made a decision to expand the state-federal program for the poor and disabled.

“We understand again that it will have a significant financial impact on the state but at the same the governor understands that there are Pennsylvanians who will need access to quality care and we are weighing those considerations at this point, “ said Consedine.

Pennsylvania is one of twenty-eight states that has said it will allow the federal government to run its exchange.

Consedine says he doesn’t think the state would have had control even if the exchange was state-based.

“Local control was certainly one of the advantages of having a state-based exchange but I think our concern continues to be if that control is real or not. What we’re seeing in some of the regulations and guidance we’re getting from HHS is that they would still exert a considerable amount of control over a state exchange,” he said, adding, “It would really be a state-exchange in name only.”

The state has not spent any of the $33 million dollars it received to set up the exchange.