Capitol Wire: Senate Banking and Insurance committee on health care

I continue to cover health reform here in the State Capitol for Capitol Wire, a service for which you don’t have a subscription, so I can only give you a taste.

HARRISBURG (June 19) – The estimated cost of the House-passed health care reform package could be highly inaccurate, testified one witness hired by the Senate GOP at the Senate Banking and Insurance committee hearing Wednesday.

“The rules aren’t the same as in other industries,” said Jack Burke, a principal and consulting actuary from Millman Inc., a consulting firm in Wayne retained by Senate Republicans to review cost estimates attributed to the health care plan.

His firm reviewed “Cover all Pennsylvanians,” an earlier proposal that has since been replaced by the Rendell-endorsed Pennsylvania Access to Basic Care plan, a package of health care reforms that would provide state-subsidized health insurance to nearly 273,000 uninsured residents at an estimated cost of $1.1 billion by the fifth year.

The pitfalls of any state-subsidized health care plan are possibilities, Burke said. If a younger, healthier pool of participants isn’t engaged, or mandated to purchase insurance, premiums could become costlier than anticipated. Additionally, because so many factors are involved in a program’s complex cost analysis, estimates could be grossly exaggerated, higher or lower, he said.

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Image courtesy of Penn Live, depicted Gov. Ed Rendell and Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario.

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