Health - August 2, 2013

Voter ID case wrapping up, law suspended for next election

Closing arguments in the voter ID case were heard Thursday morning in Commonwealth Court after “more than two weeks of testimony.”  The court has not given a time table for when a ruling on the matter will be issued.  Since the law was passed, requiring voters to show a valid, acceptable, non-expired photo ID, it has yet to be strictly enforced.  In the 2012 Presidential election and subsequent primary election, poll workers could ask voters to show ID but voters were not required to show it unless voting for the first time at a new polling place.  The state has now also agreed to a preliminary injunction that would postpone implementation of the law until after the November 5 election this year.  To date the state has issued about 3,800 voter IDs for those that needed them.  Both sides have vowed to appeal, meaning the case will eventually had to the state Supreme Court and we may not see a final legal decision in the case until the end of 2014.


Insurers want in on PA’s health insurance exchange

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department reported this week that fifteen insurance companies or their subsidiaries have applied to offer health insurance through the federally mandated health care exchange.  Aetna, Highmark, Capital BlueCross, Independence Blue Cross, Blue Cross of Northeast PA, and subsidiaries of Geisinger Health System and UPMC were amongst those that applied.  Ten companies also filed stand-alone dental plans.  The number of companies applying to sell insurance means there will be competitive options for consumers once the marketplace opens.  The plans offered still need to be approved by the US Department of Health and Human Services; which will operate the exchange.  Companies are allowed to withdraw during that approval process.  There will be plenty of choices for consumers but they are likely to be offered regionally since many of the companies operate regionally in Pennsylvania.