PA SENATE CONFIRMS WOLF CABINET NOMINEES
On March 20, the Pennsylvania Senate confirmed high-ranking nominations from Governor Tom Wolf. They include:
- Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman by a 50-0 vote
- Department of Human Services Teresa Miller by a 49-1 vote The ‘no’ vote was cast by Senator Dave Argall (R-Schuylkill.)
- Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine by a 49-1 vote The ‘no’ vote was cast by Senator John Eichelberger (R-Blair).
- Department of Drug & Alcohol Programs Secretary Jennifer Smith by a 50-0 vote.
In her confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee, Insurance Commissioner Altman touched on a number of topics, three of which included:
- Drug Formularies for Workers’ Compensation as a means of reducing opioid abuse: Altman stated her support for formularies as a care management tool but also cautioned that some individuals face special situations which warrant processes to curb unnecessary opioid use but which don’t discourage necessary use.
- Use of medical marijuana and insurance law: Altman said that much of the answer to that question lies outside of the purview of the Insurance Department now but that there needs to be a better understanding of its implications for liability insurance.
- Health Insurance Surprise Billing: She said that the Department will continue its efforts to support legislation sponsored by Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks) and Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford) to curb this practice.
FIDUCIARY RULE RECEIVES ADVERSE COURT DECISION
Spencer Fane law firm reports that the U.S. Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule suffered a legal setback with the March 15 split decision of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals concluding that DOL exceeded its legal authority by attempting to regulate investment advice to non –ERISA entities such as IRAs. A link to their report follows:
Rx TRANSPARENCY BILL GOES BACK TO COMMITTEE
On March 20, Senate Bill 637 (White-R-Indiana) was re-referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee. This legislation seeks to provide transparency in drug pricing by requiring disclosure of how pharmaceutical drugs reach their final retail price. Disclosure would also include a breakdown of drug manufacturers’ expenditures on consumer marketing in contrast to research investments in developing new drugs. It also requires aggregate disclosure of rebates. In addition, insurers and pharmacy benefit managers would be prohibited from preventing pharmacists from disclosing information to a customer that would reduce the customer’s out of pocket costs. NOTE: Those businesses that repackage manufactured drugs are not defined as manufacturers in this bill. A link to the text of SB 637 follows:
SESSION NOTES… The PA Senate will be in session March 26, 27, and 28, will recess for the Easter holiday, and will return to Harrisburg April 16. The House resumes its work April 9.
Now that the U.S. Supreme Court rebuffed PA Republicans’ effort to overturn the PA Supreme Court’s redistricting rule, there have been a number of election developments:
- Rep. Chris Dush (R-Indiana/Jefferson) is initiating a move to impeach PA Supreme Court Justices, saying that they violated the PA State Constitution which gives the General Assembly authority to create redistricting maps.
- Current House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana) discontinued his congressional campaign because the new map would have him opposing Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. “GT’ Thompson. This marks his withdrawal from elective office since he is not running for re-election to his PA House seat.
- Former Democratic U.S. Representative Joe Hoeffel is seeking to return to Congress in the redrawn Montgomery County 4th district. In seeking the Democratic nomination, he has to beat two incumbent PA Representatives, Madeleine Dean and Mary Jo Daley, and gun control advocate Shira Goodman. This seat is currently held by retiring U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan.
- Because of the PA Supreme Court redistricting map, the Cook Political Report moved two Republican incumbents, U.S Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick from southeast PA and western PA’s Keith Rothfus to ‘toss-up’ because the new map has made those districts less Republican.
- New apparent congressman-elect Democrat Conor Lamb from the old 18th district will only be in office until the end of this session of Congress. He filed in the new 17th district to oppose incumbent Rothfus. He still has a contested primary where one of his opponents dropped out to support him, but another, who ran against Rothfus in 2016, is still in the race.
- Congressional candidates had to submit petitions to the PA Department of State by March 20 in order to be included on the primary ballot. Given the confusing question of in which congressional district voters live, the Philadelphia Inquirer prepared a list of the new district numbers, what areas are included in each district, and a listing of the primary candidates for each congressional seat.
MARKET NOTE: Best’s Review placed Temple University’s risk management and insurance program in the top five of college programs nationally. Others making the grade (pun intended) to be included in the top twenty are St. Joseph’s University and the University of Pennsylvania, both in Philadelphia.