Pa. health overhaul advisors say work should continue

    When the federal health law passed earlier this year, Governor Ed Rendell appointed a group of advisors to guide the overhaul in Pennsylvania. NewsWorks/WHYY checked on what has been done so far.

    Beginning in 2014, health insurance will be mandatory. So the federal government requires each state to offer a clearinghouse where small businesses and consumers can easily compare insurance options.

    Greg Paradiso represents employers on the governor’s Health Care Reform Implementation Advisory Committee. He directs health benefits for P.H. Glatfelter, a paper producer in York. Paradiso says the law leaves design of the insurance exchange open to interpretation.

    “Some states have taken the approach that the state actually is a purchaser of sorts and will be negotiating to get good deals, then the state’s playing a more active role in determining the value offered to citizens,” he said.

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    Paradiso says if the clearinghouse accepts all insurers, it could be confusing for buyers and won’t save them much money. He wants to “pre-qualify” companies to make sure they offer good value and are well run.

    The advisory board includes insurance industry representatives, health care advocates, a consumer and lawmakers. Some on the committee say they are worried that their work won’t continue when governor-elect Tom Corbett takes office. Corbett opposes major portions of the health overhaul.

    Thirty-six-year-old mom Kelly Amos of Williamsport, Pa., represents health consumers on the advisory board. She says Pennsylvania needs a health insurance portal where people can easily compare their options, even as their income and eligibility for government programs changes.

    “When you go from say Medicaid to purchasing insurance in the exchange, I think we need to ensure that there’s a continuity of care and a continuity of coverage there for people who might fall back and forth. Someone working retail part time might get more hours over the holiday, and it’s temporary,” Amos said.

    She says in Pennsylvania there’s been a lot of debate about whether middleman insurance brokers should be allowed to sell on the exchange and who will pay their commission.

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