Yesterday, Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine wrote Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius a second letter requesting information necessary to establish state health insurance exchanges. While HHS has set a September 30 deadline for states to submit information on essential health benefits, there has been no rulemaking to guide this submission.
Congressman Joe Pitts (PA-16), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, calls on the Secretary to answer the Insurance Commissioner's correspondence and stop delaying regulations.
Congressman Pitts' statement follows:
"The President's health law requires states to either set up their own health insurance exchanges or forfeit this responsibility to the federal government. Pennsylvania is looking into setting up an exchange, but election year politics is making it virtually impossible.
"The Department of Health and Human Services was supposed to issue rules for essential health benefits. Knowing that these rules would make clear just how expensive health insurance will be under the President's health law, HHS has issued only weak "guidance' that lacks the necessary details for states to set up exchanges.
"Secretary Sebelius needs to stop ignoring the pleas of Pennsylvania and other states and issue the rules for essential health benefits. Short of that, she should at least have the decency to sit down with state officials face to face and answer some of their many questions about how the law is supposed to work.
"The exchanges are the centerpiece of the President's health reform, and yet it seems like he wants to hide from the American people how they will actually function until after the election. HHS must stop letting political considerations hold up regulations required under the law."