Pa. hesitates on implementing health-care law

    Gov. Tom Corbett’s pick to lead Pennsylvania’s Insurance department says the administration is taking a “wait and see” approach to implementing the new federal health-care law.

    At a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Thursday, acting Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine said he would like to see a Supreme Court ruling on the measure’s constitutionality before Pennsylvania decides whether 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,” he said. “We negotiated with the Blues and they agreed to waive the pre-existing condition exclusion for adultBasic members who enrolled in the program, which was a very significant concession on their part.”

    Special Care, which offers fewer benefits than adultBasic, has a more expensive monthly premium. Consedine says about 7,000 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.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.