On August 11, CLS Staff Attorney Kristen Dama provided the following testimony at a forum convened by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department regarding how to best implement Health Insurance Exchanges in Pennsylvania.
Community Legal Services (CLS) thanks Commissioner Michael F. Consedine and the Pennsylvania Insurance Department for hosting public forums to permit stakeholders to present ideas on the establishment of a Health Insurance Exchange in Pennsylvania.
For more than forty years, CLS has helped thousands of low-income Philadelphians with legal problems by providing them with advice and representation in non-criminal cases, advocating for their legal rights, and conducting community education to inform them about the laws that affect their lives. CLS also engages in legislative and administrative advocacy on behalf of its clients. CLS’s Public Benefits Unit works to ensure that low-income Philadelphians have access to public health insurance and other benefits.
In recent months, CLS has been happy to work with the Pennsylvania Health Access Network, a statewide coalition of organizations working to protect high quality health insurance coverage and to expand coverage to the uninsured, to develop a Joint Position Statement for Implementing a Health Insurance Exchange. The Position Statement outlines recommendations for establishing a Pennsylvania-run Exchange that functions as a marketplace for affordable, accessible coverage for individuals and families. Rather than reiterate the principles contained therein, we simply note our endorsement of the Position Statement and urge Pennsylvania to incorporate its principles if and when it establishes a state-run Exchange.
CLS believes that implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) creates an unprecedented opportunity to provide comprehensive health insurance coverage to low-income Pennsylvanians while, at the same time, addressing historical, systemic barriers to public health insurance access. To that end, we focus our comments on how a Pennsylvaniarun-Exchange would be able to function best in concert with Medicaid and other public health insurance programs.[i]