Pa. asks U.S. to restore plan for preexisting conditions

The short form for the new federal Affordable Care Act. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)
The short form for the new federal Affordable Care Act. (AP Photo/J. David Ake) (AP)
Posted: May 16, 2013

The Pennsylvania insurance commissioner has asked the federal government to reconsider changes to a state-run health-insurance program for people with preexisting conditions.

Preexisting-conditions insurance - called PA Fair Care in Pennsylvania - started in 2010 and was one of the first parts of the Affordable Care Act to roll out. It was supported nationally by $5 billion in federal money.

The insurance was designed as a bridge until online health-insurance exchanges and other provisions of the ACA go into effect Jan. 1, 2014, but $5 billion was not enough.

Federal officials in February suspended enrollment as of March 2 to preserve resources for current beneficiaries.

PA Fair Care now covers 5,742, according to the Insurance Department.

The federal department overseeing the preexisting-conditions program last month told the state it had to choose between accepting a limited amount of money to run the program from June through December under a contract extension, or moving the Pennsylvania participants into a federal version of the insurance.

"In essence, you are asking the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to either end the program or potentially fund at the state level a current federal program," Insurance Commissioner Michael F. Consedine wrote in a letter dated May 10.

"We respectfully disagree with your two options," Consedine wrote in the letter to Gary Cohen, director of the Centers for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight.

Consedine said he wanted the federal government to allow Pennsylvania to continue running the program "under its original intent and contract terms."

New Jersey had 1,555 people enrolled in its program as of Friday. New Jersey has agreed to continue the program under a contract extension, but is still negotiating the capped amount New Jersey will receive, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance said.

Federal authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Contact Harold Brubaker at 215-854-4651 or hbrubaker@phillynews.com.

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