By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent
HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett said the federal government has dragged its feet providing information to the states about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
That’s why the state has yet to make a decision on whether or not to set up a health insurance exchange, he said.
“What are your rules?” Corbett said. “I think I have a fiduciary duty to the taxpayers of Pennsylvania to know what the rules are before I make a decision.”
Still, many other states are forging ahead. Pennsylvania is one of 10 states that hasn’t decided whether it will run its own health insurance exchange marketplace or not. States must make a decision by Dec. 14.
The health insurance exchanges will allow individuals and small businesses to compare insurance plans before purchasing. The aim is to make health coverage options more competitive, transparent and affordable.
States can operate an exchange on their own, partner with the federal government, or let the federal government run it.
Exchanges are supposed to be up and running by the start of 2014.
States received large stacks of draft regulations about the exchanges last Tuesday, Corbett said.
“How can they have all this time to come up with regulations, and expect us to make a decision in three and a half weeks as to whether we’re going to play by the rules?” Corbett said.
Corbett also said the federal government still hasn’t answered Pennsylvania’s specific questions about how to run the exchange. Those included questions on associated costs, how partnerships work and what happens if states decide to run their own exchange at a later date.
Corbett would not say if the state will defer to a federal plan if it doesn’t get more information. But, he pointed out, states “have the option of taking it back” as a fallback.
Corbett said the decision or lack thereof is not political, despite the fact he was one of the attorneys general who brought the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Corbett maintains the law is “more expensive than the country can afford,” and Pennsylvania’s next budget “is going to be tight again.”
Corbett estimated setting up the exchange would cost Pennsylvania somewhere between $30 and 100 million. Previously, the state has acquired around $33 million in federal grant money to use towards that purpose.
Officials say most of that money hasn’t been touched.