DiSanto: Senate Committee Preserves CHIP Family Choice

HARRISBURG—Today the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee unanimously approved three bills which included approval of telehealth for outpatient psychiatric clinics, financial solvency regulation for insurance companies, and preserving options for CHIP families.

SB 1235, authored by committee Chairman John DiSanto (Dauphin/Perry) and Sharif Street (Philadelphia), would prohibit the Department of Human Services (DHS) from soliciting bids for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in any way that would preclude a CHIP carrier from submitting a bid. DHS had considered using the Medicaid Health Choices zones to bid the program, which would have excluded Harrisburg-based Capital Blue Cross because its national association only permits it to sell branded products in 21 counties.

“Capital Blue Cross serves a quarter of the entire CHIP program’s covered lives, and this business line alone provides for 70 family-sustaining jobs,” DiSanto said.  “Under the originally proposed bidding zones, all these CHIP families would need to find new health coverage and these local jobs would be lost.”

SB 1222, also authored by Chairmen DiSanto and Street, would adopt enhanced state-based financial solvency laws for insurance companies intended to better protect consumers. The legislation is needed to comply with Covered Agreements between the United States and the European Union and United Kingdom, or risk Pennsylvania-based insurers be subject to costly and disruptive international accounting standards and regulations.

HB 2419, sponsored by Representative Pickett, allows outpatient psychiatric clinics to better utilize telehealth for the delivery of mental health services. The bill alleviates the ongoing psychiatrist shortage and improves patient access to care.  

CONTACT: Chuck Erdman 717-787-6801 cerdman@pasen.gov