U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz issued the following statement today after Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett told the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that he will not participate in setting up the Commonwealth's health insurance exchange.
"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."