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Change slowing down? I'm not seeing it

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What a week!

Actually, it was eight days. Allow me a brief recap.

• Monday, June 23: Holy Spirit Health System will become a Geisinger Health System affiliate. Also, fruitless Supreme Court watch.

• Wednesday, June 25: Fruitless Supreme Court watch. Also, my two-year anniversary at the Business Journal, in which I discuss with my editors how I started on a Monday and the original big Supreme Court decision on Obamacare came down that Thursday.

• Thursday, June 26: Hershey Medical Center and PinnacleHealth System will combine forces. Also, Supreme Court watch; no apples or oranges.

• Friday, June 27: Highmark Inc. reaches an accord with UPMC. Also, fabulous live chat on Obamacare with Eric Athey that you can still watch, because we care about people who have complicated schedules.

• Monday, June 30: The Supremes hand down their contraceptive mandate decision right on time, three business days after my two-year anniversary, and almost everyone has comments. Also, despite SCOTUSblog’s clearly and repeatedly posted statement to the contrary, many, many people decide that it is the official Twitter account of the U.S. Supreme Court, which doesn’t allow cameras inside or even tell attorneys in huge national cases when it will release the decisions in the cases they argued, for pity’s sake. (Why don’t they teach logic at these schools?)

Moral of the story: Two years from now, I might take a vacation the last week or two of June. Also, if you try to tell me that health care change is slowing down, you’d better have some really good data in hand.

• • •

Here are some interesting tidbits from the week.

• PinnacleHealth System President and CEO Michael Young said, “The new hospital is at 70 patients admitted at the hospital last night, so obviously the patients are pretty happy with it.”

• Randall Wenger (the attorney representing Conestoga Wood owners the Hahn family) said, “The Hahns were thrilled. They’ve been carrying a lot on their shoulders for more than a year now. To know that they can run their business, as they have in the past, consistent with their conscience, is a huge relief. I sat with them, watching SCOTUSblog as the decision came down. As was fitting, one of the first things they did was to thank God for the result. The Court did a good job of explaining that corporations are a means for real people to go about doing business. The court, therefore, thought it was important to protect core liberties in this case because, though the Hahns are running a business, they are real people in need of constitutional protection. After all, nobody wants to be told by the government that they need to violate their deeply held convictions. And our rights to follow our conscience shouldn’t be forfeit simply because we choose to run a business.”

• Witold J. Walczak, legal director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said, “The Court’s decision is unprecedented. Never has the Court allowed for-profit business owners to use their religious beliefs to deny a benefit to employees. While we all have the right to our own religious beliefs, religious freedom does not include the right to impose your beliefs on others in the way this decision allows employers to impose their beliefs on employees.”

• Reading “Most HealthCare.gov application discrepancies unresolved” and “Reasons to Get Excited for the Upcoming Tax Season!” in concert inspired an unusual emotion in me: Pity for the IRS. Anyone else thinking the next tax season is going to be utterly terrible for that agency?

• • •

If you’ve been paying very close attention, you may recall that Hanover Hospital just introduced a patient portal. Well, Memorial Hospital has a new one too.

• • •

West Shore EMS is working to reduce readmissions at Holy Spirit Hospital via a new program.

• • •

Finally, if you haven’t already, you should really read our Health Care Report. It has stories on a couple of subjects I’ve wanted to write about for a long time — health care fraud litigation, and what Obamacare means for mental health — plus more.

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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