Friday, March 18, 2011

Insurance Commissioner: Gov Worked Hard for Alternative to AdultBasic

Governor Tom Corbett’s pick for Insurance Commissioner says the administration is taking a “wait and see” approach to implementing the new federal health care law.

At a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, Acting Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine said he would like to see a Supreme Court ruling on the measure’s constitutionality, before Pennsylvania decides whether or not to create a state-level health care exchange. “I certainly think we all would tend to agree that we would do a much better job of regulating insurance here in Pennsylvania than the federal government would do,” he said. “And admittedly, the federal government doesn’t even want to run these exchanges nationwide, or for large states.”

Several federal judges have issued rulings on the law, but it’s not clear when – or if – the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the challenge. Consedine said the department has accepted federal money to carry out a study on whether it would be better to create a state exchange, or let the federal government oversee Pennsylvania’s health insurance sales.

He also addressed adultBasic during the hearing, telling lawmakers that contrary to Democratic criticism, the Corbett Administration actively worked to find alternative coverage for the program’s 41,000 enrollees. “They worked directly with the Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans in Pennsylvania, to make the Special Care product available, which is another subsidized limited benefit health insurance product available. We negotiated with the Blues and they agreed to waive the preexisting condition exclusion for adultBasic members who enrolled in the program, which was a very significant concession on their part,” he said.

Special Care offers fewer benefits than adultBasic, and has a more expensive monthly premium. Consedine says about 7,000 thousand people have joined Special Care since adultBasic ended earlier this month.

A group of former adultBasic enrollees has filed a lawsuit against Corbett and lawmakers, for failing to continue funding the initiative.

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