Pennsylvania: Gov. Wolf confirms PA *will* set up their own exchange if King v. Burwell goes badly, but...

Hat Tip To: 
Mary Anne,

So, the good news is that new Democratic Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, who has already scrapped his predecessor's unnecessarily confusing "alternative" Medicaid expansion plan in favor of regular expansion, has officially submitted a latter to the HHS Dept. stating that yes, if the Supreme Court does rule against the government in the King v. Burwell case, PA will indeed establish their own ACA healthcare exchange.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Gov. Tom Wolf's administration advanced plans Friday to maintain federal health insurance subsidies for nearly 400,000 Pennsylvanians ahead of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that could wipe out the aid to insurance buyers in some states.

The Democrat wrote to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to declare his administration's intent to take over operation of the insurance marketplace in 2016. The federal government currently operates the marketplace, which is a prominent feature of the 2010 federal health care law designed to extend insurance coverage to 35 million Americans.

"In order to protect 382,000 Pennsylvanians from potentially losing subsidies that help them afford health care coverage, I have written to the federal government outlining a contingency plan to set up a state-based marketplace to ensure no one loses their health coverage," Wolf said in a statement released by his office.

While it would obviously be far better if the SCOTUS dismisses the case, this is welcome news.


In any case, approval from the Republican-controlled Legislature would be required for any money needed to run an exchange and potentially for the legal authority, legislative officials said.

Ah. Well, that's the rub, isn't it?

I can't find the link to the other article about this which someone submitted a few days ago, but I believe Wolf stated that the exchange he has in mind would piggyback off of Healthcare.Gov the way Oregon, Nevada and New Mexico's all currently do. Assuming that this would be deemed kosher by the Supreme Court in the event of a plaintiff win, that makes perfect sense since a) is working pretty smoothly these days and b) it would save a whole lot of time and expense. However, doing so would still take some amount of each.

Fortunately, if I'm reading this correctly, Pennsylvania's legislative session appears to be pretty much year round, so at least there won't be any "Gone Fishing" signs hung on the door the day after the SCOTUS issues their decision. So, y' least there's that.

As an aside, the article also updates PA's Medicaid expansion tally:

Since Jan. 1, about 250,000 more Pennsylvanians have enrolled in an expansion of Medicaid's income guidelines under the federal health care law, on top of those who bought a marketplace insurance plan.

That's about 50K higher than my prior update from back in March; it sounds like PA's Medicaid expansion is going pretty well since they replaced the convoluted version that Wolf's predecessor, Tom Corbett, set up just before leaving office.