Corbett opts out of Obamacare exchange

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Joining other GOP governors, Gov. Tom Corbett finally announced today that he would not create a state health exchange system under Obamacare and leave its implementation to the federal government. There are too many questions regarding the system and thus far too few answers from the Department of Health and Human Services, he said in a statement.

From his administration:

Harrisburg – Governor Tom Corbett today released the following statement, along with a letter to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, regarding the state's decision on the establishment of a state-based health insurance exchange:

"For two years my administration has been engaged in careful planning around the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, continually seeking guidance from the federal government. Throughout this time, we've asked HHS questions to help determine costs, impacts and flexibility in order to inform our decisions.

Until this week, less than five days before the deadline for a state-based exchange decision and blueprint, we received little acknowledgement of those questions. Even HHS Secretary Sebelius recently admitted on a call with governors that the regulations released a few weeks ago were not final and that more drafts are to be expected.

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.

However, we will continue to seek guidance from HHS on the costs, impacts and flexibility involved in the different options for Medicaid expansion.

We must work together on solutions that provide greater access to high quality and more affordable health care coverage for Pennsylvanians."

Pennsylvania is one of 28 states that has declared it will allow the federal government to operate its exchange. By law, the decision to establish a state-based exchange can be re-evaluated by states each year.

The exchange decision letter to HHS, along with three previous letters to HHS from the administration, can be found by clicking on "Affordable Care Act News" on the Pennsylvania Insurance Department's website at

The governor's full letter to HHS contains much of the same language but adds his concern that state authority to run an exchange is "illusory" since control will really be by the feds:

Corbett HHS letter

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