Law Center Challenges Insurance Companies’ Attempt to Keep PA Medicaid Rates Hidden
Oral argument before the Pennsylvania Supreme court to be heard on May 5th.
Although Pennsylvania pays $20 billion in taxpayer dollars to insurance companies to provide medical services through doctors and dentists to over two million persons, the companies are claiming that how they pay dentists to provide those services is private, confidential information.
But the Public Interest Law Center, which has been a leader nationally in ensuring Medicaid services for children, will be in front of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Tuesday, May 5 seeking public disclosure of those contracts with dental providers.
“These records detail information the insurance companies and their agent subcontractors are required to keep by the state, and they determine how Pennsylvania gets the dental services the state is buying from the insurance companies. This is important public information, and it is covered by the state’s Right to Know Law,” said Ben Geffen, an attorney at the Law Center who will argue the case.
Researchers and news media associations have filed amicus briefs telling the court how important this information about the rates paid to dental providers is in order to assess the functioning of the Medicaid program and dentists are available to eligible persons.
So far, the companies have kept the information hidden since the Public Interest Law Center first sought the data in 2011. The case is on appeal from the Commonwealth Court which overruled a decision under a prior version of the Right to Know Law that had ordered the public disclosure of similar information in 2009. Instead, this time the court held that the money paid to the insurance companies became private funds once in their hands and was no longer subject to the Right to Know Law. It also held that the companies had proven that the rate information are trade secrets which are exempted from disclosure by the Pennsylvania Trade Secrets Act, even though the Right to Know Act has a specific provision saying its exemption for trade secrets does not apply to the kind of records being sought in this case.