HARRISBURG, Dec. 10, 2012 — As the deadline nears for Pennsylvania to comply with the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, three Philadelphia lawmakers are urging the governor to take action immediately to decide whether the commonwealth will run its own health insurance exchange, form a partnership program, or allow the federal government to run an exchange.
In a letter sent today to Gov. Tom Corbett and Pennsylvania Insurance Department Commissioner Michael Consedine, state Sens. Mike Stack, Shirley Kitchen, and Anthony H. Williams recommended that the governor choose to implement a state-run insurance exchange.
The governor must make a decision by Dec. 14. The Affordable Care Act will be fully implemented by Jan. 1, 2014.
“The Affordable Care Act will make reforms to our costly health insurance market and provide citizens with unprecedented access to a myriad of health services,” said Stack, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee. “We cannot move forward until the governor makes a decision on how Pennsylvania will implement this law, so it’s imperative that the governor make a decision very soon.”
If Pennsylvania misses the deadline, the federal government will run the state’s health exchange.
“We have an opportunity to work with the Obama administration to tailor an insurance exchange that fits the needs of people across Pennsylvania. We must not pass up this opportunity,” said Kitchen, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee. “For too many people, health care is a lifeline, and the Affordable Care Act will increase the quality of life for so many individuals and families. It’s a decision we must not let go by the wayside.”
The lawmakers said that the health exchange will simplify the process of buying health insurance and allow consumers to compare and choose health insurance plans in a competitive, online marketplace.
The federal subsidies to be provided to many of Pennsylvania’s 1.2 million uninsured residents will help them purchase a policy, and the federal government has supplied the Corbett administration with $33 million to help plan and implement the exchange.
“As a one-time entrepreneur, I’m cognizant of the kinds of planning people have to make, even on the mom-and-pop level, when it comes to businesses. They await and deserve a swift decision here, as do the tens of thousands relying on enactment of the ACA for access to care. It’s in part why the citizens of Pennsylvania re-elected our president and support his policies,” said Williams, the Democratic whip. “We need to honor their voices and implement a plan that suits our state’s needs. And since the federal government is willing to help us jumpstart a state-run health exchange, it’s a no-brainer. This is a win-win.”