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Gov. Tom Wolf initiates plan for comprehensive health care reform

Governor Tom Wolf unveiled a plan on Friday that addresses comprehensive health reforms. PHOTO PROVIDED.

Gov. Tom Wolf established a number of councils and commissions on Friday that his administration says will help the state address comprehensive reforms in both physical and behavioral health and make health care easier to access for Pennsylvanians.

The reform package, which has three components, was created to make health care more affordable, hold health care corporations accountable and tackle health inequalities resulting from systemic racism, Wolf said after unveiling the plan.

“Even before the pandemic, there were warning signs that Pennsylvania’s health care system wasn’t working for everyone,” he said. “Many Pennsylvanians found it hard to pay their medical bills due to rising health care costs, including families who have health care coverage and often have to pay higher premiums and more out-of-pocket costs every year.”

As part of the three-part plan, Wolf signed an executive order establishing the Interagency Health Reform Council (IHRC). The council, made up of commonwealth agencies involved in health and the governor’s office, will develop recommendations to streamline the state’s health care systems by the end of the year.

The Wolf Administration wrote in the accompanying release that the recommendations could include information on how systems can increase joint purchasing of medications, align value-based purchasing models and better utilize data from state agencies.

Wolf’s plan also calls for the formation of five Regional Accountable Health Councils across the state. The councils will be asked to develop regional plans to reduce disparities in health care, address social disparities in the state that effect health and align value-based purchasing agreements.

Wolf will work with the legislature to create a Health Value Commission charged with keeping all payers and providers accountable for health care cost growth. This, administration says, will “provide the long-term affordability and sustainability of our health care system, and to promote whole-person care.” More than 1.5 million Pennsylvanians are expected to become uninsured as a result of the pandemic, according to the administration.

Dr. Doug Jacobs, chief innovation officer at the state Department of Human Services, supported the plan, saying it is crucial for health care in Pennsylvania to be both affordable and offer a “whole-person approach to care.”

“Governor Wolf is proposing a whole-person health reform package that will make comprehensive, quality health care more affordable and accessible,” he said.

Ioannis Pashakis
Ioannis Pashakis covers health care, the gig economy, cannabis and technology. Email him at ipashakis@bridgetowermedia.com.

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