On Wednesday, Melissa Fox, Deputy Press Secretary for Pennsylvania’s Insurance Department said the Department has still not yet begun work on the health exchange; a sort of travleocity-esque shopping site for health insurance plans, which is a crucial component of federal The Affordable Care Act.
“Certainly the election did play a part in terms of the unknown. The Republican party did say that they would repeal 'ObamaCare' but either way, the questions that we had asked HHS were back in the summer looking for clarification and we continue to look for those answers,” said Fox.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney spoke openly and often of repealing "ObamaCare," saying he would repeal it on his first day in office. Since he didn’t win the presidential election, health care reform will proceed. And with it, there are deadlines that some states, including Pennsylvania, don’t appear to be even in the vicinity of reaching.
By November 16, states have to have a plan in place for executing the health exchanges. Last month, Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine said the state would not meet the deadline because it hasn’t received enough guidance from the federal government and answers to more than two dozen specific questions the Insurance Department has for the federal government. Some of those are the cost of the exchange, the level of regulation, and the autonomy of Pennsylvania over the exchange.
The deadline exists now so that at the beginning of 2014, when the health mandate law kicks in, everything is in place. People without insurance who choose to continue to go without will have to pay a penalty. Medicaid is supposed to expand to cover a larger swath of low-income people – approximately 800,000 in Pennsylvania.
The Health Insurance Exchange is supposed to make it easy to shop for and understand coverage.
Health insurance providers in the state, such as Highmark, have said they are in the process of establishing health insurance plans for the exchange.
The state has received two federal grants to help implement the exchange. One was a little more than one million dollars and was used for stakeholder outreach. That money was spent speaking to people about what their needs on the exchange would be.
The state also received 33 million dollars from the federal government to establish the health exchange – but to date has not done anything with it.