Editorial: Pennsylvania health exchange mousetrap
Everyone wants to build a better health care mousetrap.
It’s a hot topic on the campaign trail. It’s a top concern for voters. In Pittsburgh, all eyes are on the UPMC-Highmark battle royale. People want to know how to stay healthy, how to get healthy and who is going to pay for it.
And now Pennsylvania wants to be more involved.
Actually, Pennsylvania wants to save money by taking over the online health insurance exchange the federal government has been running for five years.
Maybe that’s not fair. Maybe it will work out just fine. After all, it’s not just Gov. Tom Wolf’s idea. The legislation introduced Tuesday in the state House of Representatives has sponsorship from Republican and Democratic floor leaders.
It’s got bipartisanship. It’s got cost savings. It’s got health insurance. Is it possible it has everything?
What it also has is an air of familiarity. Haven’t we heard this song before?
The state is happy to help you get from here to there. But if you take the turnpike, they’re also happy to hike how much that costs every year and divert the funds to pay for things that have nothing to do with the toll roads. Definitely no cost savings there.
Fill up your gas tank, and the state is there, too, with the nation’s highest surcharge. Just don’t count on all that gas tax going to pay for the road. For some reason, part of it pays for the state police coverage in communities that have opted not to have local cops.
The state pension system hasn’t exactly been an affordable proposition. Pennsylvania has some of the highest college tuition in the country. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board stands between consumers and a simple bottle of booze that other states let you pick up like a loaf of bread.
Let’s face it, “affordable” and “efficient” aren’t exactly synonymous with Keystone State government.
It’s hard to believe that the state’s projection — that it would cost just $30 million to $35 million to run the exchange that costs the feds $94 million.
And that $60 million or so savings could go to reimburse insurers for high-dollar claims, something other states have done, but Pennsylvania would be the first to fund it this way.
That’s what’s really scary. The state’s propositions often sound good, like better but convoluted mousetraps.
The problem is they seldom catch mice but always catch money.