Senate Appropriations Committee Approves HealthNET PA Bills

Panel’s Endorsement Sets Stage For Final Vote By Full Senate On Six Measures

The Senate Appropriations Committee today approved three bills in the HealthNET PA legislative package intended to improve health care access and coverage, according to Committee Chairman Senator Jake Corman (R-34).

The committee’s approval of Senate Bills 189, 442, and 443 sets the stage for a final vote on those measures by the full Senate.

Senate Bill 189, introduced by Senator Corman, would extend health insurance coverage, at the expense of policyholders, to adult dependent children up to the age of 30 who are not married, have no dependents, are residents of the Commonwealth or enrolled as a full-time student at an institution of higher education and are not provided insurance coverage or eligible for government benefits. Insurers would be able to determine increases in the premium to cover this additional benefit.

“Looking at the demographics in Pennsylvania, the largest segment of the uninsured are young adults age 18 to 34,” Corman said. “This legislation would provide an option that would enable some of those young adults to receive the benefits of health insurance coverage.”

Senate Bill 442, introduced by Senator Don White (R-37), would extend the COBRA guidelines to group plans of businesses with 2-19 employees.

Senate Bill 443, also introduced by Senator Don White, would permit health insurers to withhold payment to providers in the event of a medical error.

The 15-bill HealthNET PA package (including Senate Bills 189, 442 and 443) includes legislation that would develop or expand health care clinics across Pennsylvania to provide “medical homes” for 175,000 working-poor clients and ease pressure on hospital emergency rooms. The HealthNET PA plan would expand access to health care and medicine to more than 500,000 uninsured and low-income working Pennsylvanians. It would utilize information technology to control costs and reduce health care-associated infections, and provide expanded insurance options for employers and families, and will incorporate the concepts of disease prevention and wellness.

In addition to the HealthNET PA bills, the Appropriations Committee also approved:

Senate Bill 89 — a measure sponsored by Senator Pat Vance (R-31) to re-enact the Health Care Cost Containment Act and re-establish the Health Care Cost Containment Council Act Review Committee with a new sunset date of June 30, 2014.

Senate Bill 237 — a bill sponsored by Senator Corman to enact a new article in the Insurance Company Law to regulate the purchase or exchange of an annuity based on recommendations made to a consumer by an insurer. The bill also ensures that information filed by stock and mutual insurance companies, associations and exchanges remains confidential.

Senate Bill 490 — a bill sponsored by Senator Mary Jo White (R-21) to transfer $174 million from Oil & Gas Lease Fund to General Fund.

Tim Nyquist
Phone: (717) 787-1377