By Heather Abraham

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Just a week after the Justice Department made their ruling in the Highmark-West Penn Allegheny Health System proposed merger, the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance held a public hearing on Tuesday.

There were over 50 people signed up to speak, including politicians such as Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, representatives of health care organizations and business owners.

During opening remarks, Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine said that no decision would be made at the end of the day, but added that the public comments would aid in the final decision.

The objective of the review by the department is to look at the impact of the merger on the entire state and any consequences it will have on competition.

Roseanna Placey, spokesperson for the State Insurance Department, said, “We have to make sure that the insurance buying public is not harmed in any way if this transaction goes through.”

Before public comments, Acting CEO and Chairman of the Board, J. Robert Baum said, “This transaction is consistent with our long standing community tradition to maintain choice and access for all subscribers to affordable quality healthcare.”

Given the dire financial situation that WPAHS is in, Commissioner Consedine said the department understands the need to move expeditiously.

Wanting to take into consideration all of the testimony from the public hearing Tuesday, though, a date was not given as to when the review would be complete.

Highmark will not be able to change their corporate structure without approval from the State Insurance Department.


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