The Department of Public Welfare and the MCOs appealed both of the successful decisions we received from the Office of Open Records decisions to the Commonwealth Court. The Court heard oral arguments on both requests in September of 2013.
The MCOs argued that the rates requested fall under the trade secrets exemption of the Right to Know law, which if true, would indicate that these records do not need to be disclosed under the open records law. The MCOs further argued that the rates paid by MCOs to subcontractors are private and not public record because a direct contract does not exist between DPW and the subcontractors.
Law Center staff attorney Benjamin Geffen argued that the levels of payment transfer from DPW to MCOs to sub contractors to dentists do not themselves change the applicability of the Right to Know Law because the money remains public money throughout. He also argued against the MCOs’ claim that the requested records should be found exempt from the Right to Know Law because they contain “trade secrets.” In fact, the requested rates are historical (and not the current rates that fluctuate daily) and so releasing this historical information would not constitute infringing on trade secrets or limiting competition.