Rendell Urges Passage Of Plan To Give Access To Affordable Health Insurance

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Just one week after Cover All Pennsylvanians, the centerpiece of his "Prescription for Pennsylvania," was introduced in the General Assembly, Governor Edward G. Rendell visited Allentown as the final stop on his statewide "Tour to Insure." The five-day, nine-stop tour has highlighted the need to lower health care costs and expand coverage. The Lehigh Valley has nearly 37,000 uninsured adults.

"Close to 37,000 adults in the Lehigh Valley 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.

A key component of the Governor's plan is reducing costs for everyone by reducing the estimated $7.6 billion in avoidable costs in Pennsylvania's health care system. The legislature passed provisions designed to reduce 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.

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But more needs to be done, the Governor said.

"My Prescription for Pennsylvania sets out a common sense plan to attack all the problems driving up the cost of health care for businesses and individuals," Governor Rendell said. "We know that attacking chronic care management, hospital acquired infections, and more aggressively overseeing the insurance industry will save everyone money and will make sure we're doing the right thing for people."

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 four. However, according to the Governor, if the entire Prescription for Pennsylvania package were adopted, a small business would save between 20-30 percent and a large group would save at least 16 percent by 2012.

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 General Assembly 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," Governor Rendell said.

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