HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania will not set up its own health care exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act, at least not for now, Gov. Tom Corbett said Wednesday, putting the state on a course to join others led by Republicans that will let President Barack Obama's administration run its exchange.
Setting up a state-based exchange would be irresponsible, Corbett said, as he faulted federal authorities for what he called inadequate answers to his questions about cost and other issues.
Health care reform is too important to be achieved through haphazard planning, Corbett said. Pennsylvania taxpayers and businesses deserve more. They deserve informed decision making and a strong plan that responsibly uses taxpayer dollars.
The Corbett administration also is rejecting the option of running the exchange as a partnership with the federal government, spokeswoman Christine Cronkright said. But she also noted that the administration has the ability under the law to re-evaluate every year whether to get involved.
Corbett said 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.
Many Democratic lawmakers, insurers and hospitals wanted Corbett to set up a state-run system. As Pennsylvania's attorney general in 2010, Corbett joined a federal lawsuit with officials from other states challenging the constitutionality of the landmark federal health care law that was ultimately upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The state Republican Party thanked Corbett for rejecting the exchange. The Washington, D.C.-based group Americans for Prosperity, which was founded by billionaire energy executives Charles and David Koch, had urged Corbett along with other governors to reject it. The group even sent a news release 20 minutes before he released his decision publicly Wednesday, saying they expected Corbett to bring Christmas early to Pennsylvania by rejecting an exchange.
State Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, said Corbett's reasons for not participating appeared to be more thoughtful than some Republican governors who refused to participate strictly on partisan or ideological grounds. A better test of Corbett's interest in helping the uninsured will come when he decides whether to pursue a federally funded expansion of Medicaid under the law, Leach said.