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PA Tackles Health Insurance Reform

April 1, 2008

Harrisburg, PA - Pennsylvania is getting some follow-up care to health care reform this week. The House is expected to vote today on a bill that brings some reform to the health insurance industry. And it comes on top of a vote two weeks ago on legislation offering a new kind of low-cost coverage to some Pennsylvanians.

Service Employees International Union health care campaign manager Marc Stier says the latest bill bans rate discrimination against women and people with preexisting medical conditions, and aims to lower ever-rising premiums.

"The great thing about this bill is that it will make health insurance a lot more affordable for small businesses, and for individuals, without costing taxpayers a dime."

Some health insurance companies are against the bill, arguing pricing controls could result in higher deductibles and co-pays. Stier says the bill still allows insurance companies to charge higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions but it limits the difference between the higher rates and average prices.

"Spread the risk around, which is the original design of insurance, and that will moderate the cost of health insurance all across the state."

Stier explains that under the current system, health insurance companies are rewarded with higher profits for denying or pricing people out of coverage. He says this bill puts all health insurance companies on the same playing field by setting some ground rules on coverage and rates.

Deborah Smith/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - PA