BLOG: Protecting Pennsylvania’s Consumers

first_imgRead 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 Consumerscenter_img 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.govlast_img read more

Man who stabbed tennis star, Petra Kvitova jailed for eight years

first_imgThe man who stabbed tennis champion Petra Kvitova in her home in the Czech Republic has been sentenced to eight years in jail.Radim Zondra, 33, went to her flat in 2016 saying he needed to inspect the boiler. He then grabbed Kvitova from behind and held a knife to her throat.She suffered severe wounds to her left hand in the fight to free herself but returned to tennis five months later.Appearing at a regional court in Brno, Zondra denied all charges against him.Zondra, who is currently serving a prison sentence for another crime, was convicted of serious battery and illegal entry into Kvitova’s apartment.The 29-year-old player, who is currently the world number two, told the courtlast month there was “blood all over the place” after the December 2016 attack. She added that she had offered Zondra money to leave, eventually giving him 10,000 Czech crowns (£341; $440). The court has ordered him to pay this back.In her judgment, Judge Dagmar Bordovska said Kvitova’s testimony was credible, while witnesses who testified on behalf of Zondra were unreliable, CTK news agency reports.Although Zondra denied ever being in the tennis star’s home, prosecutors argued that DNA evidence and the positive identification from Kvitova meant he was guilty beyond all doubt.The two-time Wimbledon champion suffered damage to ligaments and tendons in her playing hand, and underwent a four-hour surgery.Doctors warned her at the time that her tennis career could be over and that she may even lose her fingers. Kvitova had to have surgery on her playing hand after the attack in December 2016However she returned to tennis in May 2017, following months of rehabilitation, and continued her successful career.Earlier this year she reached the Australian Open final, and is now in the US competing in the Miami Open. She will face Ashleigh Barty in the quarter-finals later on Tuesday.last_img read more