Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania expressed concerns over how consumer premiums would be affected by the proposed merger of his home states two largest health insurers at a Senate hearing on the issue.
The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, heard testimony from company executives, stakeholders and analysts over the proposed merger between not-for-profit insurers Independence Blue Cross and Highmark during the two-hour hearing. Its a very serious matter, Specter said at the hearing.
Carolyn Scanlan, president and chief executive officer of the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, said her members would like to be able to seek arbitration in the event of a contract dispute with the proposed merged insurer and for clinically and financially integrated providers to negotiate as a unit with the merged health plan.
Kenneth Melani, president and CEO of Highmark, said the merger is about laying the foundation for positive change in the way healthcare is delivered and paid for in Pennsylvania.
The two insurers announced their intent to merge in March 2007 and received Justice Department approval for the second time on July 17. But the deal has yet to be green-lighted by the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance. It would create the largest insurance company in the state, with about 8 million members, estimated as nearly 70% of the market. -- by Rebecca Vesely