Governor Corbett said ‘no’ to a state health exchange in PA yesterday. Here’s why this is a good decision: If a state does not set up an exchange, the federal government will come in and set it up, according to the law. So far, 22 states have said they are not going to set up state exchanges. Only six states have received conditional approval from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to operate their own exchanges.
Why leave it up to the federal government? Well, to begin with, it’s an extremely costly undertaking. Heritage health care experts Nina Owcharenko and Ed Haislmaier explain:
[T]here will be no steady flow of federal dollars to the states. The law specifies that starting in 2015, any state implementing a state exchange must develop its own revenue source to fund the exchange’s annual operations. That puts the long-term costs squarely on the states. Moreover, the recent announcement by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that it will levy a 3.5 percent administrative fee on coverage sold through the federally run exchanges indicates there are significant costs if a state agrees to run its own exchange.
And what would be in it for them? Certainly not increased control over how the exchanges are run. Owcharenko and Haislmaier explain that “regulations promulgated by HHS allow states no meaningful flexibility or advantage by operating their own exchanges, relative to a federal exchange. Those states would simply be acting as vendors to HHS.”