Pennsylvania Governor Signs Four Health-Care Bills That Will Reduce Costs, Improve Access and Quality
Three of the four bills were part of the Governor's Prescription for
"I'd like to recognize the good work of the legislature in working together to pass these bills which will help provide health care coverage for thousands of uninsured Pennsylvanians, reduce the cost of health care and will improve health care quality for all Pennsylvanians," Governor Rendell said.
The House and Senate had passed almost identical health care bills and the Governor had urged them to work in a bipartisan manner to enact the bills since there was no disagreement on substance.
"One of these bills will be the answer to the prayers of parents whose kids will be graduating from college and will be kicked off their health insurance policies because they've reached the maximum age. Parents and kids are stressed because the kids are now uninsured and are having trouble finding jobs, with health insurance, due to the current economic situation.
"Another bill will help relieve the worry of the employee of a small business who is about to lose his or her job and will now be given the opportunity to keep and pay for health insurance for a short period of time while searching for another job or being rehired by the employer as the economy recovers.
"We will end the practice of paying for medical errors by making it illegal for health care providers to charge when they've made a serious, preventable medical mistake. Can you imagine any other business that charges you to fix a mistake that it has made? And we will continue to benefit from the groundbreaking work started 23 years ago by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, the nation's premier health care data collection and reporting agency."
The four health care bills the Governor signed today are:
HB 84 - part of the Governor's Rx for PA, this bill prohibits health care providers from seeking reimbursement for a serious, preventable medical error, often called "never events."
Approximately 140 patients who experience an adverse medical event that might be both serious and preventable die each year in
The House bill was sponsored by Rep.
SB 189 - this bill was also part of Rx for PA and will allow uninsured, single, adult children up to age 30 to be covered by their parents' health insurance plan. Parents must pay the premiums and the coverage hinges on the employers' willingness to offer the benefit to parents. This bill will go into effect in six months and coverage will be available on a rolling basis after that as contracts are renewed.
According to the 2008 survey by the Insurance Department, there are 383,298 uninsured Pennsylvanians between ages 19-29, which accounts for 40 percent of the total uninsured population. While not all of these Pennsylvanians would be able to be covered by a parent's policy, this will be an important step to increasing access to health care for this population.
The Senate bill was sponsored by Sen.
HB 1089 - Federal COBRA law, which allows those who lose their jobs to continue paying for health insurance through their former employers for a period of time, applies to all employers with 20 or more employees. The concept of providing continuation coverage to small businesses with fewer than 20 employees was initially proposed by Sen. Corman as SB 189. This bill, which was sponsored in the House by Rep.
This is particularly important because the federal stimulus plan permits employees who lose their jobs and who qualify for COBRA to receive a federal government subsidy of 65 percent of the premiums for the coverage, so long as the employee pays the remaining 35 percent. So, in
SB 89 - this bill, also supported in the Governor's Rx for PA, reauthorizes the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, or PHC4, which is broadly acknowledged as the nation's premier agency of its kind. The work of PHC4 is critical to improving patient safety and health care quality outcomes, as well as health care cost containment, for Pennsylvanians. Health care purchasers, such as businesses and labor unions, use PHC4 data for plan design and cost and quality improvements. The agency had sunset last year without legislative reauthorization and was kept in operation through an executive order by Governor Rendell.
A study in the
PHC4's first-in-the-U.S. public report quantified the cost and associated deaths from hospital-acquired infections, and resulted in Act 52 of 2007 which addressed infection prevention and reduction. After the first year of implementation of Act 52, the infection rate in PA hospitals dropped 7.8 percent resulting in an estimated savings of
SB 89 was sponsored by Sen.
More information on the new Mini COBRA bill can be found at http://www.ins.state.pa.us/ins/cwp/view.asp?a=1274&Q=550035&PM=1 and information on insurance for adult dependent children is at http://www.ins.state.pa.us/ins/lib/ins/consumer/brochures/SB_189_061009.pdf.
The Rendell administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his newsletter, visit: www.governor.state.pa.us.
CONTACT: Chuck Ardo 717-783-1116
SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor