The Tea Party group Americans For Prosperity lauded Gov. Tom Corbett's decision to opt out of a state insurance exchange in a statement issued at 1:09 p.m. today, more than 20 minutes before the governor's full decision was issued. Here's the top of the AFP release:
Harrisburg, PA - Americans for Prosperity-Pennsylvania, the commonwealth's leading advocate for health care freedom, is encouraged by reports that Governor Corbett is announcing today that Pennsylvania will not set up a state or state-federal exchange, but let the federal government's department of Health and Human Services shoulder the costs of setting up the exchange.
"Governor Corbett has stood strong against the intrusion of the President's health care takeover thus far and today we look for him to bring Christmas early to Pennsylvania by announcing he will reject a state or state-federal exchange and instead allow the federal government to handle administering this law in our Commonwealth" said state director Jennifer Stefano.
U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-Montgomery, a possible 2013 gubernatorial challenger, calls the decision "a failure of leadership":
"Governor Corbett's decision not to accept the authority to develop and operate a state 'exchange' marketplace of private health coverage for individuals and small businesses is a failure of leadership and vision. It is a lost opportunity for the Commonwealth to demonstrate leadership and innovation in affordability and accessibility in the insurance marketplace. And, it fails to build on Pennsylvania's strong history as a pioneer in the development and successful implementation of private-public partnerships in health insurance coverage for children and adults.
"Pennsylvania's Children's Health Insurance Program was one of the first state initiatives in the nation that was used five years later as a model for the federal efforts that now offer affordable coverage for 11 million children in the country. As a State Senator who fought hard for the creation of CHIP and more recently as a Member of Congress who fought for expansion of coverage at the federal level, I have seen the positive outcomes for millions of children and their working parents. AdultBasic, started with dollars from the settlement with the tobacco industry, was also a public-private initiative that successfully offered coverage to thousands of lower income middle class adults in Pennsylvania. Governor Corbett ended this program using the funds to cover budget shortfalls, leaving many in Pennsylvania uninsured.
"The federal government will now take the responsibility to establish an exchange for Pennsylvania so that our residents will have access to affordable, meaningful coverage. The Governor's decision has denied Pennsylvania the chance to lead in coverage and affordability and to design a model that works best for the state and our particular insurance and delivery preferences.
"Health coverage and cost are major issues for Pennsylvania families and businesses. While there are unanswered questions, as there are with all new ventures, the Governor's decision demonstrates the low priority he has given to the serious challenge of affordable, accessible health coverage for our citizens."
Antoinette Kraus, Director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network:
"The Affordable Care Act was written to give states the flexibility to operate their own state-based exchanges and be the innovators of health care reform. Regrettably, Governor Corbett chose to reject this opportunity and instead handed the development of this new marketplace to the federal government.
Either way, Pennsylvania families and small businesses will finally have access to quality, affordable coverage through this new marketplace on January 1st , 2014. Pennsylvania's health insurance exchange will assure folks have high quality choices at affordable prices, and an easier time finding and purchasing coverage. It will bring stability, certainty and security to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians.
Through the establishment of this new marketplace, and by accepting the new federal funding to extend Medicaid coverage to low-income adults, Pennsylvania can cover up to 1 million residents who are uninsured today. The Affordable Care Act remains on track to bring security and peace of mind to Pennsylvania families.
We urge Governor Corbett to work with the Department of Health and Human Services to develop Pennsylvania's Health Insurance Marketplace and to accept Federal dollars available to strengthen our current Medicaid program."
Pennsylvania today joined 21 other states in refusing to create a state-based exchange or partnership exchange, one of the tenets of the Affordable Care Act. Thanks to Governor Corbett's bold statement and the strong stance of 48 state lawmakers, Pennsylvania taxpayers will not be on the hook for millions in exchange costs.
By refusing to create a state exchange, the governor also ensured the blame for higher premiums and restricted consumer choices in Pennsylvania will rest solely with the federal government.
For those keeping score at home, that leaves 24 states in the process of creating a state or partnership exchange while five states are still undecided as the December 14 deadline approaches.
This victory for Pennsylvanians did not materialize overnight. Governor Corbett's decision was influenced by thousands of calls and letters by taxpayers urging the Governor to remain strong in his resistance to the Affordable Care Act.
Pa GOP chair Rob Gleason:
"Obamacare is nothing more than a massive tax that increases healthcare costs and puts the federal government between patients and their doctors, and by refusing to participate in Obamacare's state-based exchanges, Governor Corbett took an important step today to shield Pennsylvanians from the President's healthcare debacle."
"Tom Corbett believes our healthcare system can be reformed, but expanding government bureaucracy to create a system that forces costs to go up while quality goes down is not the answer. Obamacare is bad policy and bad law, and I applaud Governor Corbett for standing up to the President's takeover of our healthcare system."