In a letter to Highmark Inc., U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania governor, asked the health insurer to expand its coverage to include same-sex couples.
Schwartz tweeted (Feb 17th): "As #PAgov, I will enact laws prohibiting health coverage discrimination for LGBT couples."
In a letter to Dr. William Winkenwerder, President & CEO of Highmark Inc., Schwartz called on Highmark to permit family coverage for same-sex couples in Pennsylvania.
She goes on to say in the letter, "If Highmark offers health insurance coverage to same-sex couples under employer-based group plans, as the articles report, then it should be able to offer it under individual plans. It is way past time for Pennsylvania to join 10 other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing same-sex marriage.
"If I am elected governor in November, I will move immediately to repeal Pennsylvania's ban on gay marriage, and I will seek to enact a law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
In the meantime, many of our state's insurers and employers are taking the lead in recognizing the importance of equal treatment for LGBT couples in health coverage
I urge Highmark to join them."
In a statement, a public relations analyst with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia said: "Because Highmark represents many diverse communities throughout the markets where we do business, our mission is to make sure high-quality health care products are available to all individuals in the community. As a corporation, we offer our workforce same-sex and domestic partner benefits and are committed to offering eligibility in our individual products and providing our group customers this option."
Schwartz followed up with a tweet on Monday (Feb 24th) with: "Highmark has decided to expand coverage to include same-sex couples. This is a step in the right direction".