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June 28, 2012 | By | Posted in General News

PA administration still analyzing SCOTUS decision

By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett didn’t say the U.S. Supreme Court was wrong in its decision on the  constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

But he didn’t say it was right, either.

At a four-minute news conference about three and a half hours after the high court’s decision was announced, Corbett said the administration still is analyzing what Pennsylvania will do next to implement the legislation known as “ObamaCare.”

“While I am disappointed with the result of this ruling, respect for the law, and for the process of the law, even when we disagree, is part of our democracy,” Corbett said.

As part of the now-officially constitutional legislation, states are required to establish a health insurance pricing marketplace, or exchange, and expand Medicaid.

But Thursday’s ruling would allow states to opt out of the expansion without being penalized through restricted funding as the act originally would have done.

Under those new guidelines, there’s no word yet on how extensive that expansion will be in Pennsylvania. Prior estimates put the Medicaid expansion at 750,000 residents, according to Department of Public Welfare estimates.

Without commenting on the scope of the expansion, Corbett said the state will comply with the law of the land.

During his address Corbett made his disdain for the legislation clear.

“It is not good policy,” he said,  calling the law a burden to working families that will drive up insurance premiums, and a cost driver for businesses and the state.

The individual mandate of ACA will require all citizens to purchase minimum health insurance, or face a penalty. That provision was ruled constitutional under Congress’ power to tax.

“It is a tax on our citizens they cannot afford,” Corbett said. “It is a tax that hits our small businesses hardest. It will kill job growth.”

Corbett did not take questions following the press conference.

Shortly after Corbett’s news conference, supporters of the law gathered on the steps outside the Capitol, toting signs thanking Chief Justice John Roberts .

Sharon Ward, executive director of the government analysis think tank Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, said ACA and the accompanying Medicaid expansion means all working people will be able to finally have the health insurance they deserve.

“There are some of us who don’t have insurance,” she said. “It’s important the people who sell coffee have health insurance just like the people who buy the coffee.”

House Minority Leader Rep. Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny, said in a statement that he hopes Corbett won’t be a roadblock to implementation. The governor was one of the first 13 state attorneys general to sign on as a plaintiff in the case filed against the Department of Health and Human Services.

“Two years and millions of dollars went into challenging this law,” he said. “The court has spoken. It’s time to move on to next steps.”

Those steps, as Corbett indicated, are still in the discussion phase.

“Over the next few weeks, the Pennsylvania Department of Health will be working closely with the Governor’s Office, along with the Departments of Public Welfare and Insurance, to analyze the Supreme Court’s ruling,” said Department of Health spokesman Thomas Hostetter. “We will also continue working with stakeholders to develop a Pennsylvania solution to providing health care and implementing the federal law according to the ruling.

Watch the full press conference with Gov. Tom Corbett:

Watch comments from Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny:

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Eric Boehm is a reporter for PA Independent. He can be reached at Eric@PAIndependent.com or at (717) 350-0963.

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