Two conflicting court opinions this week cast into sharp relief the Corbett administration's folly in failing to establish a state-operated insurance exchange to help hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians obtain health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Many states, like Pennsylvania, declined to establish exchanges as part of opposition to the law and political opposition to President Obama.

In such cases, state residents instead used the federal exchange to obtain insurance and, if they qualified, federal subsidies to pay for it.

Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued an incredibly narrow ruling, by a 2-1 vote, holding that subsidies could be distributed only through state-run exchanges. So, residents in states like Pennsylvania would not be eligible for subsidies and would not be able to afford the insurance.

On the same day, the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., found unanimously that the subsidies are valid through either exchange.

So, the matter possibly will be resolved by the Supreme Court of the United States.

In the meantime, the state government should correct its earlier politically motivated mistake by establishing a statewide exchange to ensure that Pennsylvanians have access to insurance and the means to pay for it.