- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
Rx4PA: House Bill 2098 would do for Pennsylvania what Medicare has done for everyone
The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO is pressing legislators to pass HB 2098, a bill submitted on December 6th and sitting before the House Insurance Committee (authored by its chair, Rep. DeLuca). We were all a little disappointed earlier this year when the legislative process failed to make good on Governor Rendell's plan to allow our insurers to quit paying for infections and mistakes made by Hospitals. Then, the next thing we knew, Medicare (by far the biggest spender in Healthcare) came along and said it wasn't going to pay for those mistakes or infections starting late in 2008, anyway. Which could have nearly the same effect, so HB 2098 seeks to give our Pennsylvania insurers that same right: to refuse to pay bills for procedures correcting conditions that hospitals should have prevented.
"But wait! I thought we already solved this problem?" you ask. Sure you do. We did something about it, but we sure didn't solve it. In fact, in one very important way, we took a step backward. A big step. Click Read More to see what I mean!
When Senate Bill 968 passed the legislature earlier this year, many people viewed it and lauded it as a real success for controlling one of the major costs for driving up insurance premiums: preventable mistakes made by surgeons and other doctors under too much pressure to run patients through at high speed.
A part of that story got left out, though. While it's true that SB 968 created an incentive for hospitals to step up their error control, the Hospitals also effectively pulled off an end-run around one of the shining lights of Pennsylvania's Healthcare System, the Hospital Cost Containment Council [HC4]. Our state was seen as trailblazer for requiring hospitals to report patient errors (and a load of other information, including the price of procedures) on a case-by-case to a single, transparent body that could provide policymakers the information they needed to correct poor performance in hospitals exhibiting it.
Under SB 968, HC4 has been shut out of the process. Instead, error and infection data will be reported to the Center for Disease Control [CDC], a Federal agency prohibited by law from sharing case-specific or hospital specific data with anyone, even an Agency like HC4. We just have to trust the CDC to take care of business if something is way wrong.
Does that sound good to you? We're YPP, so I already know the answer. We're freaking transparency junkies here.
So, given the political momentum created by Medicare's forward-thinking decision, the AFL-CIO seems to be looking to seal the deal with HB 2098. If we can't have transparency then, fine, we'll do you one better: we just won't pay for the bad stuff. The idea, I imagine, is this: hospitals are going to have to clean up their act anyway to prevent writing off mistakes they would have had to charge to Medicare, so we might as well make absolutely sure the same benefits accrue to the insurers covering PA workers.
Which means Blue Cross and Blue Shield of PA can make absolutely sure it is not paying for mistakes. Which means the cost of insurance across the board should drop. Which means Cover All Pennsylvanians will be more affordable still. Which means we ought to just pass HB 2098 and get an affordable, high-quality healthcare plan for uninsured workers and families while we're at it.
Presently, HB 1137 is in the Speaker's Office, waiting for a hearing on the House Floor. If this gets through the General Assembly, all we've assured is a debate about Cover All Pennsylvanians. That would be good, but it would be nice to get the whole deal done.