Time for Gov. Corbett to Figure Out the Health-Care Exchange
The election is over and it’s time, again, to worry about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Specifically, what our lawsuit-filing governor (and former attorney general) cares to do about the issue. Because like it or not, although the deadline has been extended, President Obama’s re-election combined with the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the law earlier this year means implementation is nigh.
Or is it? Gov. Corbett intentionally hadn’t been talking about the issue in a while on the slight chance that Mitt Romney would win the election. Romney, of course, said he’d dismantle “Obamacare” on “Day One” if elected. Which, of course, he wouldn’t have, because that would have been impossible—but you get the idea.
According to the Allentown Morning Call, “The next major deadline comes Nov. 16, when states are required to submit an exchange blueprint, including a declaration letter signed by the governor and an application to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.” But before that happens, the administration has sent some questions to the federal government and are waiting to hear back. [Note: Today the administration extended that Nov. 16th deadline to December 14th for "hurried states."]
Early in the summer, the state was trying to figure out whether it would accept the federal government’s Medicaid expansion (and apparently, they still are; it’s a big decision!), which is a large part of the new reform law. Part of the PPACA would phase out something called Disproportionate Share Payments, which, we wrote in July, is “essentially extra money Medicaid sends to hospitals to make up for “uncompensated care” to low-income individuals and those who arrive in the Emergency Room without health insurance.” (Because when everyone has health insurance, there’s no need.) An estimated 650,000 Pennsylvanians would get Medicaid coverage if Corbett decides to expand the program. According to the Supreme Court decision making most aspects of the PPACA legal, the Medicaid expansion is left up to governors.
Many Republican governors have been under pressure by the right to deny the program and not create an insurance exchange. The Koch Brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity are still pressuring governors to deny embracing the law. Reporters (including me!) got an email as recently as yesterday from the group calling on volunteers and others to ask Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey to reject the law. Christie’s comments that President Obama was doing a good job helping his state during Hurricane Sandy were widely criticized by the right, perhaps partially because he did not also call the president an America-hating socialist in said commentary.
The Corbett administration has already accepted more than $30 million to set an exchange, though officials in his administration say that money has not been spent.
Keystone Politics leads us to a Washington Post article that wonders if the Corbett administration is just leaving the whole thing up to the federal government.
“Our worst fear is rushing to build something for the sake of building it and having it not be functional,” Pennsylvania insurance commissioner Mike Consedine told WaPo writer Sarah Kliff in an interview this week. “The whole idea is helping consumers make smart choices. And we’d actually be doing the exact opposite.”
“That’s option one,” Kliff writes in response. “Option two is leave the task to the federal government. They already promised that they’ll make sure every state has an insurance exchange standing by Jan. 1, 2014. They have a huge interest in making sure these exchanges work really, really well: This is, after all, the Obama administration’s signature legislative achievement.”