Robin Stelly of PHAN addresses the group at IB's healthcare forum.
I’m using the Indivisiblog this week to recap, for those of you who missed it, last Thursday’s “Healthcare Reform in Pennsylvania” forum. Our presenter was Robin Stelly from the Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN). Robin serves as PHAN’s statewide organizer and for over a decade has been working on issues of economic justice, immigrations rights, and healthcare reform. As part of her work with PHAN, Robin tries to get healthcare consumers like you and me to share their stories with the ultimate goal of informing policy makers on what’s impacting their lives. The evening consisted of a presentation on some steps to be taken to lower costs and expand coverage, followed by some heart wrenching stories from audience members and guest speakers, and of course, a lively discussion.
Here’s my takeaway:
There is little argument that healthcare costs in America are prohibitive, and that after some successful attempts to undermine the ACA, healthcare is become less and less accessible. In last week’s blog, “Survey says!”, I discussed how a statewide survey showed that there is consensus on this opinion across party lines. PHAN identifies ever-rising prescription drug costs, surprise medical bills, and junk insurance plans as some of the chief culprits when it comes to affordability.
Here are some of the statistics:
Robin spent a bit of time discussing the impact of surprise medical bills. The slide below from her presentation, gives an example of what the term means. PHAN recommends several solutions to the problem of surprise medical bills including better informing consumers and banning the practice.
There are 4 goals identified by PHAN that if achieved could go a long way to solving our healthcare crisis. (see below) One intriguing idea that came out of the evening was the concept of expanding Medicaid as opposed to “Medicare for All”. Some are calling it “Medicaid for More”, and it simply means allowing states to open up Medicaid to more people regardless of income. Robin pointed out that under the Affordable Care Act the groundwork was already laid for this. In fact, 34 states have already expanded Medicaid under the ACA. One advantage of this strategy is that the work could be done at the state level and bypass the dysfunction of Washington, which many see as the main hindrance to improving our system.
The good news for us is that at the state level we have a lot of leverage. And with the relationships IB has built with advocates like PHAN and some of our legislators, we already have a foot in the door. It’s up to us how to exercise that power.
posted by Amy Levengood
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