Read more agency year in review blog posts.Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: Facebook.com/GovernorWolf By: Teresa Miller, Insurance Commissioner SHARE Email Facebook Twitter BLOG: Protecting Pennsylvania’s Consumers January 13, 2016 Efficiency, Government That Works, The Blog, Year in Review Since taking office, Governor Wolf and I have set consumer protection as the Insurance Department’s top priority. A big part of helping consumers is letting them know that we are here as a resource for them, and under Governor Wolf’s direction, we have substantially increased our consumer outreach.There were many times throughout 2015 where Governor Wolf and I took an active stand in order to put consumers first and protect them from future harm.Keeping Rates LowI’m also very proud of the work done by my department in reviewing individual and small group health insurance rates this year to ensure that we balanced the needs of the companies involved without placing too much burden on consumers through drastic rate increases. My department was able to save Pennsylvania’s consumers nearly $81 million – an outcome that wasn’t the case in all other states. I’m glad we can tell that story here.CHIPShortly after taking office, we addressed an issue where families enrolled in the full-cost CHIP program were facing tax penalties, because these plans did not meet minimum essential coverage standards dictated by the Affordable Care Act. We worked quickly to bring these plans up to MEC standards and obtained waivers so these families would avoid the tax penalty. Under the direction of Governor Wolf, we brought the remaining CHIP plans up to MEC standards so that more than 150,000 Pennsylvania children enrolled in the program could enjoy improved benefits and coverage standards.Highmark/UPMCThe Insurance Department is also continuing to play a role in protecting consumers affected by the consent decrees signed by Highmark and UPMC in 2014. My department supported Governor Wolf’s decision to go to court in order to protect the access of more than 180,000 seniors in western Pennsylvania to the doctors and hospitals of their choice, by requiring UPMC to stay in Highmark’s Medicare Advantage program, consistent with the terms of the consent decrees.Saving Consumers MoneyAway from the health side, we’ve taken a stand against unfair pricing tactics like the “widow’s penalty” and price optimization – a practice that occurs when insurers consider factors unrelated to expected losses and expenses, such as a customer’s likelihood to shop around for a better price, when setting rates. I issued notices to insurers to remind them that these practices are unfairly discriminatory and my department will not authorize rates that impose costs where additional risk can’t be proven.We’re also continuing to pursue other consumer protection issues, including surprise balance billing, which occurs when patients receive a bill for a service received at an in-network facility with an in-network provider but encounter an out-of-network provider at some point during care.What’s Next?These accomplishments demonstrate the Wolf Administration’s strong commitment to putting consumers first through increasing access to health insurance, ensuring consumers are treated fairly by companies, and educating the public on issues so consumers have the information they need to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.As we move into 2016, we’re going to continue to focus on finding solutions to issues that affect consumers every day.Find Us OnlineOver the summer, we revamped the Insurance Department website to make it much more user-friendly, and we’re making good use of this new platform to reach and educate consumers. We regularly update it with consumer alerts focused on seasonal tips or issues we hear of from consumers, and we’re producing more educational content, such as our videos and shopper’s guide to using and purchasing health insurance, to help consumers make educated and empowered choices.We’ve also joined social media, so head over to Facebook.com/PAInsuranceDepartment or follow us on Twitter @PAInsuranceDept.We’re going to work to become a more visible force in communities around the commonwealth. I want Pennsylvania consumers to know that we’re here as a resource and to connect with consumers in their own environments, and I strongly encourage you to contact us if you have any issues or concerns via our Consumer Services Bureau at 1-877-881-6388 or through our contact form at insurance.pa.gov
Update (11:40 a.m. on April 9, 2014)Officials have released the identity of twin 2-year-old girls that died after being found in a neighbor’s pool Tuesday night.Dearborn County Deputies and Aurora Fire and EMS responded to the 5400 block of Dutch Hollow Rd. in reference to the two missing girls at 6:49 p.m.The toddlers were located two doors down in a neighbor’s pool on Elm Circle.Emergency personnel immediately began CPR and the children were transported to the Dearborn County Emergency Room, where they were later pronounced dead.The 2-year-old twins have been identified as Shaylyn and Jocelyn Spurlock, both of Aurora.Update (8:30 a.m. on April 9, 2014)Twin 2-year-old girls died after being found in a neighbor’s pool in Aurora. Dearborn County authorities received a report of the missing toddlers Tuesday night.The girls were found in the pool on Dutch Hollow Road around 8:15 p.m. and were transported to the Dearborn County Hospital, where they were pronounced dead.The case is under investigation by the Dearborn County Sheriff’s Office and more information will likely follow.Officials have not released the identity of the victims or the circumstances surrounding the deaths.First Report (11:30 p.m. on April 8, 2014)Dearborn County dispatchers said late Tuesday night that twin 2-year-old girls from Aurora have been transported to the hospital after being found in a pool.Officers responded to the location on Dutch Hollow Road.The case is being investigated by the Dearborn County Sheriff’s Office and more information may follow.Stay tuned to Country 103.9 WRBI and wrbiradio.com for continuing coverage in this developing story.
TRADE ALERT: The Penguins have acquired forward Alex Galchenyuk and defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph from the Coyotes in exchange for Phil Kessel, Dane Birks, and a 2021 fourth-round draft pick.Details: https://t.co/fe3DWHBZCc pic.twitter.com/9W8jtdXzW1— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) June 30, 2019Arizona has sent center Alex Galchenyuk and prospect Pierre-Olivier Joseph to the Penguins in return. There has been no money retained in the deal.“First and foremost, I want to thank Phil Kessel for his contributions to the Penguins,” Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said in a press release. “He was a key component to our success in winning back-to-back Stanley Cups. We couldn’t have done it without him, and for that, we are grateful. With that being said, we are excited to welcome a young, skilled player in Alex, and add depth to our defense with first-round draft pick Pierre-Olivier Joseph.” Related News The Penguins have reportedly been trying to move Kessel for the better part of a couple of years.The 31-year-old has three years remaining on the eight-year, $64 million deal he signed with the Maple Leafs in 2014 and the Penguins believe that money could be better used elsewhere.Pittsburgh reportedly had a deal done with the Wild to send Kessel to Minnesota, but the winger nixed that agreement and remained with Pittsburgh for a short time.Players like Kessel don’t wind up on the market very often as he has averaged 63 points per season in his career and has eclipsed 80 points four times.He was a part of two Stanley Cup winning teams with the Penguins, but they underachieved last season and Rutherford wants to make some serious changes to the roster.Kessel will likely be the absolute biggest name on the move. NHL trade rumors: Wild have ‘proposal on the table’ to acquire Phil Kessel from Penguins Phil Kessel trade news: Penguins GM confirms team not shopping veteran As for Arizona, it has been linked to several big free agents, though it is unclear if it has an actual shot to get any of them.The trade for Kessel, though, is a surefire way to land an impact player and the Coyotes are very happy to get this deal done. The Coyotes have been trying to make moves this offseason and this one certainly qualifies as a big one.Pittsburgh dealt Phil Kessel, a 2021 fourth-round pick and Dane Birks to Arizona, the Penguins announced Saturday.