SCRANTON, Pa., Oct. 12 Just one week after Cover All Pennsylvanians, the centerpiece of his "Prescription for Pennsylvania," was introduced in the General Assembly, Governor Edward G. Rendell today visited the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce as part of his statewide "Tour to Insure." The five-day, nine-stop tour is highlighting the need to lower health care costs and expand coverage. Lackawanna County has more than 11,000 uninsured adults.
"More than 11,000 adults in Lackawanna County don't have insurance, which means they are more likely to forgo needed care, get sicker more often and for longer," said Governor Rendell. "We need to remember that these are not just statistics -- we're talking about real people who work hard every day to provide for their families, but still don't have access to affordable health care. The current situation is bad for businesses and bad for workers and it needs to change."
Governor Rendell said three-out-of-every-four people who are uninsured work for a living, and many of them work for small businesses who cannot afford to provide coverage. The Governor said his Cover All Pennsylvanians (CAP) health insurance initiative and the rest of his Prescription for Pennsylvania will help every person in the commonwealth.
"If my entire Prescription for Pennsylvania was passed, within five years small businesses would save between 20 - 30 percent on their health insurance premiums and larger businesses would save 16 percent," Governor Rendell said. "Just think of that -- businesses have been seeing spikes and substantial rate increases every year and now, rates wouldn't just stabilize, they would actually decrease."
The Governor said that the rate decreases would be due to parts of his Prescription for Pennsylvania which have already been passed such as reducing the $3.5 billion spent treating avoidable hospital acquired infections, the $1.7 billion wasted because of inadequate management of chronic diseases and the $965 million spent on avoidable medical errors and readmissions to hospitals.
He said the rate decreases are also dependent on long-overdue insurance reforms which he has proposed as part of his health care reform plan. Those include no longer allowing medical history to be used when insuring small businesses and individuals; giving the Insurance Department greater authority to review health insurance rate increases; and requiring that at least 85 cents of each health insurance dollar be used by insurance companies to provide health care. He has been urging the legislature to pass those reforms this fall.
Over the past five years, the cost of health care in Pennsylvania has gone up 75 percent while average wages have only increased by 13 percent. If historical trends continue, the cost to insure a family of four in 2011 would top $20,000 per year, representing about one-third of the annual household income for a family of that size.
Cover All Pennsylvanians is the Governor's proposal to expand access to affordable health insurance for small businesses and the uninsured. This portion of the Governor's Prescription for Pennsylvania health care reform plan was recently introduced in both chambers of the legislature by Rep. Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster) and Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) as HB 1870 and SB 1117, respectively.
"I applaud Sen. Costa and Rep. Sturla for their leadership. By introducing our CAP legislation, they are helping us reach our goal of expanded access to health care. I encourage the legislature to quickly take up and enact these bills so that all Pennsylvanians have access to health care coverage."
Details of the Governor's health care reform initiative may be found at http://www.rxforpa.com.
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