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

healthcareHarrisburg – [Thursday], 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.

 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.

TOM CORBETT
Governor

~ News Release via Pennsylvania’s Office of the Governor ~

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13 responses to “Governor Corbett Calls on President Obama for Permanent Solutions to Affordable Care Act Issues and to Protect Pennsylvanians’ Health Care

  1. This strikes me as totally disingenuous coming from a man who refuses to improve the healthcare status of so many Pennsylvanians through Medicaid expansion. It is also widely known that in the changeover from state-operated payroll services to contracted services for home healthcare aides in Pennsylvania over 4,000 workers went for up to 4 months without pay and that as many as 19,000 patients had their care adversely effected. That’s four months that it took Corbett to fix a payroll problem for “4,000” and now he criticizes the feds who I am absolutely sure will have a much better response time to a far more complex system. This is the same Governor who sliced tens of thousands of people off of the healthcare rolls for no good reason and made them reapply for the services they had already been approved for and receiving. A federal government investigation said the cuts were unjustified. We could go on and on about the negative impact Corbett has had “directly” on the health of Pennsylvanians.
    Adding his voice to the full weight of criticism that is already obvious is nothing more than piling on in a wasted attempt to get himself some positive publicity. Does anyone really believe that the government is not trying to fix the problems as quickly as they can? Did we just learn there was a problem because Corbett spoke up? Will it be fixed even 10 seconds faster because he wrote a letter? Come on man!
    I think it is so ironic that all of the politicians who wanted the ACA to fail are now so upset and critical that it has failed. First, Corbett doesn’t want it, won’t help initiate it in any way for Pennsylvanians and now he wants it fixed as quickly as possible for the benefit of Pennsylvanians?

  2. Medicaid is financially unsustainable as it currently stands. Expanding Medicaid certainly does not seem to be an economically sound solution. People want increased funding for schools and expansion in Medicaid but where are we to find the funding? 3 years worth of federal funding to expand the program which then leave the state on the hook indefinitely is a horrible solution. Kicking the can down the road does more harm than making a tough choice now.

    It’s called politics David! Those critical of Obamacare before have every reason to be critical of its failures now. That is not ironic! A bad law is exactly that and should be called out for what it is. Red or Blue, this is a standard play in the game of politics.

    • I understand politics for sure, but the states are not on the hook for the entire costs of Medicaid after the first 3 years and many Republicans who were initially skeptical are now on board. It is ironic in my mind because there are states where the politicians of both parties stepped up, admitted it was the law and did their best to help implement it and they are having much better outcomes than states like Pennsylvania where they ran as far away from the law as they could, put all of their eggs in trying to overturn it for months, supporting vote after vote after vote in DC to try to stop it.
      Real levels of taxes are lower today then they have been for decades. Corporate welfare is higher than it’s ever been. The disparity between the wealthy and the rest of the country is obscene and that’s being kind. I talked to one of the counter persons at Turkey Hill this morning. She had her gallbladder removed last Saturday and was back at work Friday. She is in obvious pain and can hardly move, but her co-workers are helping her make do. She lost 4 days pay. All this because the owners of Turkey Hill have to make millions and millions while paying their workers minimum wage and crying the blues and poor if they have to raise the wage even 50 cents. I’m not advocating more spending for education at this point, but a decent wage and healthcare should be a priority and Corbett does not support either and then blames the feds when things fall apart.

  3. God bless her Dave. When I had my gallbladder out last Oct. I was sick and weak for months. That’s just a shame when people can’t take the time they need to recover. There’s an article on the front page of the Daily Local (yesterday) where Obama talks about people being able to keep the same insurance if they like it. It also says that it’s only for a year. This is scary stuff for sure. Dec. 1st my co-pays on prescriptions have gone from $35.00 to $70.00. That’s crazy. Jan. 1st it will go up more. My premium is going up $300.00 more a week. Guess we’ll find out when this all gets straightened out.

    • Obama’s “fix” of giving people a year may be too little, too late. Many people have already lost their old plans, forced into new ones. From what I have been reading, there is no turning back the clock now for most.

      The reason for all this is because Obamacare works based on a fundamental principle of socialism, “from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.” Obamacare only works by forcing people buy insurance they don’t need to subsidize cost for others.

      There needs to be enough money in the system to pay for every promise Obamacare has made. This is also why there is a fine for those who do not comply. Young healthy people, who are the most unlikely to buy health insurance, must be forced to pay to make sure there is enough money to remove things like pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps.

  4. As a young person, I appreciate you bringing this up. My generation will pay much more into social security and medicare than we will receive (adjusted for inflation), are facing seriously inflated high education costs, and are now being forced to buy insurance policies in pools mixed with very sick individuals.

    I have heard President Obama say on numerous occasions that he won’t balance the federal budget on the backs of seniors, but he doesn’t seem to have any qualms balancing the budget on the backs of young adults.

    Before this health care law, 1 in every 3 dollars spent on health care went to administrative costs. After the health care law, 1 in every 2 dollars spent on health care go to administrative cost.

    We are the only country in the world that has such a complicated and wasteful health care system. We need healthcare reform, but this is definitely not a move towards a more efficient system.

    • Obamacare tends to be not only another example, but the greatest example of government misdiagnosing a problem and coming up with the wrong solution.

      Democrats and the mainstream Media have spent years describing Republicans (and Libertarians) as obstructionists, wanting to keep people from having affordable healthcare. Yet, everything about Obamacare has been a sales job. They were never honest about the long term consequences or costs.

      Right out of the gate, Obamacare is on the verge of collapse. People have not been signing up in the numbers they expected. The rush to sign up was people who have been putting off treatment and waiting for coverage. However, if greater numbers of healthy individuals do not jump in, the system goes into massive debt.

      Because insurance companies had to cancel policies that do not meet the new standards, they took all that money out of the system until and if those people decide to buy a new policy. For those people, premiums are going up because they are now forced to buy coverage that was not included in their old plans.

      The cost of premiums, and the realization of them continuing to increase, is being reported as the main reason young people (18-35) are not immediately jumping in. I think it is a payment, no matter what the cost, that is the issue. I have talked to young people who once supported Obama’s idea of “Universal Healthcare,” but are now upset they are being forced to buy something. Many were not paying attention…. more willing to believe Jon Stewart, than do their own research.

  5. So, Mr. Jones, instead of whining about corporate welfare and those mean old, big businesses, when can we expect the business you’ll be starting that offers decent salaries for entry level positions? Cash out your pensions and put your money where your mouth is. We’ll see how quickly you’ll change your business model after you realize you can’t afford those salaries.

    Why is making a profit a bad thing to Liberals? Why do people start businesses? To provide jobs, or to make money? Mr. Jones, I assume you didn’t work for free. What was your annual salary when you worked? You’re quick to bitch about Corporate Welfare but I’m sure as a gov’t employee you enjoyed the benefits of excellent healthcare with little or no co-pay, thanks to the tax-payer.

    This Turkey Hill employee, how much do you think she should make an hour sitting behind a counter ringing up customers? $20/hr? $15/hr? It’s an entry level job. Managers get paid a decent wage with benefits, that’s because they’re trained people with responsibility. It’s not up to Turkey Hill to provide all the basic needs for it’s employee’s and it’s not up to the tax payers either.

    The true answer to the whole healthcare debate is to remove the middle man (aka the insurance companies, and now the f’n government). Go towards medical bank accounts to pay for the doctor visits and have catastrophic health insurance for emergencies. Unfortunately, that requires people to actually pay for their own doctors visits and maybe take care of themselves physically which is exactly what Liberals don’t want.

    The ACA was a money and power grab from the get go and had nothing to do with helping people.

  6. With all due respect, Mr. Jones, it’s now been three or four days since your responses on this comment thread. In the interim, on a daily basis, we learn more and more about this administration’s duplicity, mendacity, and colossal incompetence, not just with respect to the website roll-out, but with respect to virtually every aspect of the so-called Affordable Care Act. Will you now grant that perhaps your carping against Corbett was narrow and off-topic? Will you now admit at least the possibility that the best thing that can happen to the ACA is to blow it up, and to start all over again?

  7. Google the term ‘the law of large numbers.’ Then read a dozen or more of the hits that surface on your search. You will quickly see that the law of large numbers governs much of our economic activity, most especially insurance, all insurance: life, health, home, auto, whatever. Without large numbers insurance is impossible, unworkable. Obamacare was predicated on forcing millions to form the ‘large number’ necessary to make it work. Alas, owing to the failure of the Obamacare roll-out, and to the natural disinclination of persons to be treated like sheep, Obamacare has not and probably never will succeed in lassoing the requitesite largge number.

  8. Apologies for the misspellings in my last few lines. Tim’s web host, and my computer, have some issues.

  9. The EMTALT puts hospitals in a rough position. If we are going to require, by law, that emergency care cannot be withheld, we should seriously consider taking a larger step in the direction of our industrialized nation counter-parts.

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