Governor Corbett Calls on President Obama for Permanent Solutions to Affordable Care Act Issues and to Protect Pennsylvanians' Health Care

Corbett's Healthy Pennsylvania plan increases access to quality, affordable health care

HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Governor Tom Corbett sent a letter to President Obama calling on him to address the escalating problems related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and to protect the healthcare needs of the citizens of Pennsylvania, as a delay in policy cancellations is not enough.  Pennsylvanians need permanent solutions to this problem.

"The negative effects of the Affordable Care Act are being felt all across Pennsylvania by hard-working families, individuals and employers," Governor Corbett wrote in his letter to the president. "The inability to shop on the exchange website, the loss of healthcare coverage for more than 250,000 Pennsylvanians and the significant cost increases for many policyholders are unacceptable.

"We need solutions and options in Pennsylvania and for Pennsylvanians, not broken promises."

Since Oct. 1, more than 250,000 Pennsylvanians have been notified that their current health care coverage is being canceled due to the implementation of the ACA. That number is expected to continue to grow, leaving tens of thousands of more Pennsylvanians without access to health care.

Governor Corbett is formally requesting that the president allow for common-sense solutions including allowing people to keep their current policies.  In addition, insurance professionals and companies should be able to directly offer exchange-based plans to those Pennsylvanians who will be uninsured as a result of the ACA.

To date, the Obama Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services have only allowed qualified plans and subsidies to be available on the health insurance exchange.

"With the exchange website still inoperable, the president should not force people to wait until it is fixed to access health care when he has the ability to provide for other solutions," Governor Corbett stated.

To assist Pennsylvanians struggling with impact of the ACA, Governor Corbett also directed Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine to encourage Pennsylvania insurance companies to conduct outreach and offer products to cancelled individuals with the goal of providing all citizens access and options for health care. 

Also of great concern to the governor is the recent notification that a significant portion of the Medicaid funds, Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP), coming from the federal government to the Commonwealth are in jeopardy. If implemented, the federal cuts, which would exceed $300 million, would be devastating to the Commonwealth's Medicaid program and significantly impact the critical services provided to Pennsylvania's most vulnerable citizens.  In his letter, Governor Corbett also requested that the president examine whether the proposed reduction in federal Medicaid funds is accurate. 

"Eliminating more than $300 million in federal Medicaid funding would be the most drastic cut in federal funds in the past 30 years and would critically impair the Commonwealth's ability to provide much-needed healthcare services to the neediest Pennsylvanians. President Obama, I am asking you to stand behind your funding commitments to help meet the healthcare needs of Pennsylvanians."

Despite the problems experienced at the federal level, Governor Corbett has developed a plan to increase access to quality, affordable health care.  

In September, Corbett unveiled his "Healthy Pennsylvania" plan.  It builds upon the commonwealth's strong foundation of local and state health care solutions that work by:  

  • Ensuring that every child has access to healthcare coverage through CHIP;
  • Connecting every Pennsylvanian with a family doctor or healthcare provider;
  • Expanding access to specialists through enhanced use of telemedicine;
  • Extending long-term care services for older Pennsylvanians and people living with disabilities;
  • Promoting public health and wellness in our communities; and
  • Reforming Medicaid to encourage healthy outcomes, help able-bodied, unemployed Pennsylvanians access job training and job opportunities, and increase access to health care for more than 500,000 uninsured Pennsylvanians through the private insurance market.

Media contacts:   Jay Pagni or Christine Cronkright; 717-783-1116

Editor's Note: Text of the letter to President Obama follows below.

Nov. 14, 2013

Dear Mr. President:

I write to you today on behalf of Pennsylvanians regarding the negative effects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which are being felt across Pennsylvania by hard working families, individuals and employers.  Mr. President, it is time that we have permanent solutions.

The most immediate and potentially harmful issue is the cancellation of individual policies because those products do not meet ACA standards.  We have determined that over 250,000 Pennsylvanians are losing their coverage due to the ACA.  Next year, the ACA-based cancellations are expected to grow significantly, including inevitable disruptions for small businesses.  Your announcement today of a delay in policy cancellations is not enough.  We need permanent solutions to this problem.

The inability to shop on the exchange website, the loss of coverage for a quarter of a million Pennsylvanians and the significant premium increases for many policyholders are unacceptable.  We need solutions and options in Pennsylvania and for Pennsylvanians, not broken promises.

On behalf of the over one quarter million Pennsylvanians who are losing their coverage, I am calling upon you to act and get government bureaucracy out of the way.  Again, a delay is not enough, nor is it a solution.

I urge you to support fast-track legislation to let Pennsylvanians keep their current insurance policies.  Unlike the original ACA legislation, this legislation has bi-partisan support and will move quickly with White House support.  Also, let insurance professionals and carriers provide access to coverage including direct enrollment in Qualified Health Plans.

Why should the exchange be the only avenue for qualified coverage and subsidies?  Why should a government-run portal be the required avenue?  As policymakers, our goal should be to provide more options, not fewer.  Please consider using private resources and entities that have been enrolling people in health coverage for decades.

Here in Pennsylvania, we are working directly with our consumers and insurance companies to provide more direct options.  I have asked the Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner to have insurers contact all cancelled policyholders to make sure each are offered a comparable product to alleviate people having months without any health care access.

On a separate, but equally important note, the trust in federal funding commitments continues to be a significant concern.  Pennsylvania recently received notice of a significant drop in the federal Medicaid matching rate (FMAP).  If accurate and implemented, this federal reduction would result in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania losing over $325 million next fiscal year.

I am hereby asking you, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to examine this issue due to its potential impact to critical services provided to our most vulnerable citizens.  This reduction would be the most drastic cut in federal funds in the past 30 years.  At the very same time of this potential extreme reduction we are working in good faith with HHS to provide health care access to uninsured Pennsylvania citizens.  This effort is based upon the promise of your Administration and trust that federal funding to cover the uninsured will be made available.

Mr. President, I am asking you to fulfill the promise of federal funding to states for this important federal/state program that serves disabled and disadvantaged adults and children.  Please do not hurt Pennsylvania Medicaid recipients.  These ongoing problems highlight the need for common-sense, state-specific solutions. In October, I announced "Healthy Pennsylvania", a state-based, common-sense plan to increase access to quality, affordable health care for all Pennsylvanians.  It builds on the Commonwealth's strong, existing private-industry infrastructure and history of local and state health care solutions that work.

I am proposing Pennsylvania enact common-sense reforms and improvements to Medicaid by encouraging people to live healthier and help able-bodied, unemployed Medicaid recipients get job training and connect with job opportunities.  Healthy Pennsylvania will provide access to health care insurance for more than 500,000 uninsured Pennsylvanians through the private insurance market.

I am asking you to work with us on "Healthy Pennsylvania" and as we conclude our negotiations, I will be encouraging fast track review and approval by the Department of Health and Human Services.


SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor


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