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Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania Comments on Passage of Federal Health Care Reform Legislation

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March 22, 2010

Wilkes-Barre, Pa., March 22, 2010 – Following the passage of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” by the United States House of Representatives, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania President and Chief Executive Officer Denise S. Cesare released the following statement:

“Since the debate on Federal Health Care Reform started more than a year ago, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania has been strongly in support of legislation that is designed to help extend health care coverage to millions of Americans and address the fundamental challenges of our health care system.  We have advocated for reform that protects consumers by allowing anyone to access health care, regardless of pre-existing conditions and by ensuring that patients don’t lose their coverage when they become sick.  Indeed, in the 70 years we have been operating, we have never dropped a member because they have become sick.  We have supported a system that requires all individuals to maintain coverage with a strong individual mandate, and that provides support for those who don’t have the means to afford coverage.  And we strongly supported reforms that help to empower consumers and the health industry to slow the rapidly rising cost of health care, a problem caused by a grossly inefficient and outdated delivery system, misaligned incentives among providers, employers, payers and patients, and the very real problem of cost shifting that occurs when government programs reimburse at such a low rate that physicians and hospitals are forced to charge higher rates to those with commercial insurance to make up the difference.

“The legislation passed late Sunday evening fell short on many of the aspects we felt were critical to meaningful reform: the individual mandate is too weak to be effective; not enough has been done to improve efficiencies in the system; and the problem of cost-shifting is likely to become worse under the new legislation.  Our focus now is to help ensure that we continue to advocate for the best interests of our members and customers during the lengthy and complex process that will take place as we look to implement the various provisions of this legislation.  We will work with government and others to address those factors driving costs, as well as the unforeseen issues that will inevitably occur as the nation begins to implement these major changes.  

“Everyday, more than 800 individuals come to work at Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, focused on doing the right things to help our members and customers.  We don’t seek and are not motivated by profit.  We are motivated by the opportunity to help make quality health care easier and more affordable for the people in the 13 counties we serve.  And we do our best in the face of rapidly rising health care costs to keep our premiums as low as possible.  It is my sincere hope that as we move forward after this long, often difficult debate, we can acknowledge that the efforts of our neighbors, family members, and other dedicated local citizens who are Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, are deserving of our respect.”

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About Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania

Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association headquartered in Wilkes-Barre.  It offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to approximately 600,000 individuals in 13 counties in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania. The company’s mission is to provide innovative solutions that support more affordable health care, promote personal accountability for health and wellness, and offer superior service and partnership to employers, members, and providers.

Anthony Matrisciano
Phone: 570-200-6310