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CPBJ Blog Extras

The smorgasboard and the atlas: Health care perspectives

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Since Gov. Corbett started the second round of his Healthy Pennsylvania promotion tour last week, I've been getting statements from a variety of groups.

Please help yourself to a textual smorgasboard of them.

• Details of the plan and the public hearings on it — which will include two webinars — are available here.

• Antoinette Kraus, director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network

We are happy that Pennsylvania is taking another step forward in securing health insurance for hundreds of thousands of hard working Pennsylvanians.
Every state surrounding Pennsylvania has accepted federal dollars to expand their Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. Governor Corbett like his neighbors has the power to improve hundreds of thousands of lives by allowing hardworking, low-income Pennsylvanians to have healthcare. Unfortunately, the proposal put forward today will not expand coverage until January 1, 2015, forcing roughly 400,000 Pennsylvanians to face another year without affordable coverage.
Expanding coverage right away will not only protect hundreds of thousands of low-income Pennsylvanians who will finally have access to stable, affordable health coverage, it will also generate $522 million in state budget savings in 2014 and keep us on track to create 35,000 new, good-paying jobs across the Commonwealth. Delaying by a year will mean much needed revenue to our state lost and another year Pennsylvanians will be forced to gamble with their economic and physical health.
We will continue to work with our partners and lawmakers to ensure Pennsylvania takes full advantage of the cost-savings and benefits under Medicaid Expansion.

• Highmark spokesman Aaron Billger

Highmark supports programs that seek to provide private solutions to affordable access to high-quality health care. We support the Governor's efforts to make the necessary changes that will ensure greater access to health care coverage for more Pennsylvanians.

• Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania President and CEO Andy Carter

This is a vital step toward developing a plan to bring health insurance coverage to at least 350,000 additional Pennsylvanians. The hospital community appreciates the public comment process being embraced by the Governor, and we look forward to sharing our views on key provisions of the waiver submission to make sure that it remains aligned with the hospital community's priorities for strengthening Medicaid, assuring access to care for our state's most vulnerable patients, and improving quality through more timely and appropriate treatment.
Pennsylvania's hospitals continue to support the broad aims of Governor Corbett's Healthy PA plan for access, quality, and affordability. In addition to providing guidance on the 1115 waiver, we will continue to work with the Governor on his key policy measures to strengthen health care for all Pennsylvanians, including measures to improve the availability of primary care, expand physician training and supply, and bring specialized care to rural communities through expanded use of telemedicine.

(You may also be interested in reading the comment letter HAP sent last month on Healthy Pennsylvania.)

• Pennsylvania Association of Chain Drug Stores President Janet Hart

We at PPA and PACDS applaud the Governor for taking the next step in making affordable healthcare available for Pennsylvania residents. The Healthy Pennsylvania plan not only increases access to healthcare but rewards healthy behavior for better outcomes, and that is something everyone in the healthcare community can support.

• Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association CEO Pat Epple

Pharmacists play a key role in the delivery of healthcare and our members look forward to the opportunity to serve those currently without health insurance.

• Americans for Prosperity Pennsylvania State Director Jennifer Stefano

As long as Corbett's Healthy PA Plan includes taking ObamaCare Medicaid dollars to add up to 1 million new people to an entitlement, AFP-PA will encourage taxpayers to oppose the plan. We hope that more than Administration officials and lobbyists who support Governor Corbett's ill-advised and unfortunate Medicaid Expansion plan will weigh in during this public comment period. We strongly encourage hard-working Pennsylvania taxpayers, who will foot the bill for this expansion plan to reach out and make their voice heard on how their money will be spent.
Expanding an already overburdened and failing program with borrowed federal dollars that could eventually dry up is not compassion, it is irresponsible. Governor Corbett's plan to expand Medicaid is neither in the best fiscal interest of our Commonwealth or in the best physical interest of those who may receive coverage. We hope the taxpayers of Pennsylvania take advantage of this opportunity to let him know that they oppose this plan.

• Neal Bisno, president of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania (the state's largest health care union)

After months of inaction, the Corbett administration has finally taken the long overdue first procedural step toward using Medicaid expansion dollars to expand access to care in Pennsylvania. While we welcome the progress, this proposal raises many concerns about cuts to healthcare for vulnerable people and the cost for low-income families. Given the governor's record on healthcare, this proposal needs careful scrutiny.
We are disappointed the state wasted valuable time to reach this point. Because of these delays, working families will fall in to the Pennsylvania Gap. They earned too much for Medicaid now but cannot receive help affording coverage on the exchange. That leaves 400,000 people to struggle for another year without access to a doctor that will be available in most states on January 1st, hospitals will have enormous costs from uncompensated care, the state will lose $500 million and the creation of 35,000 jobs is at risk.
• • •

And now, the atlas!

This WalletHub feature, "Obamacare Report: States Benefiting Most & Least," says we rank 35th and our neighbor to the north, New York, holds the No. 1 spot.

Before you pack up to move, remember that New York had really strict insurance regulations even before Obamacare came along — and commensurately lofty costs.

On a similar note, this blog entry mentions a study that compares state payments for Medicaid expansion to other efforts to attract investment to the state.

And on a related subject, you may or may not remember the part of Gov. Corbett's Nov. 14 letter to President Obama that said the following.

"Pennsylvania recently received notice of a significant drop in the federal Medicaid matching rate (FMAP). If accurate and implemented, this federal reduction would result in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania losing over $325 million next fiscal year," Corbett wrote. "This reduction would be the most drastic cut in federal funds in the past 30 years."

I haven't seen anything further on that yet, but if it is indeed accurate and implemented, I'm positive it will come.

Back to the maps: This one drills down to the county level on the uninsured and Obamacare plan coverage and costs. It's pretty much just premiums, though, on the plans — for details on those, you'll want to use the recently beefed-up healthcare.gov window-shopping feature that I raved about last week.

From the ZocDoc blog comes a graphic perspective on booking doctor appointments and how they differ by geography and gender. A sample: Tuesday is both the most popular appointment day and the day on which there are the most last-minute openings.

• • •

This isn't a map, but it's interesting: A Pa. business owner spreadsheets insurance options and exults. Big caveat, though: He erroneously conflates the graduated age bands with next year's insurance rates.

If the base price of insurance stayed the same every year, you could indeed use the age/cost grid to figure out how much your premium would go up because of your employees' ages. But — as before Obamacare — the base prices still could and likely will fluctuate yearly. And by fluctuate, I mostly mean go up.

Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer covers Lancaster County, nonprofits, education and health care. Have a tip or question for her? Email her at heathers@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @StaufferCPBJ.

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