health care

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  The Pennsylvania Department of Health  and the Department of Education announced Thursday a joint proposal to revise immunization regulations for school children.

Health Secretary Karen Murphy and Education Secretary Pedro Rivera said this week they want to better protect students’ health by requiring students to finish all immunizations within the first five days of school. If guardians fail to complete that schedule, a written note from a doctor outlining the plan to immunize the student must be submitted to school officials within the first five days of class.  Currently families have up to eight months to make sure school children have their vaccinations.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Anchored at the corner of Fifth Avenue and McKee Place in Oakland, Hieber’s Pharmacy sports a glass block window that reads, “We Create Medicine For Your Family.” Inside, white cabinets hold powdered chemicals and a rainbow assortment of empty capsules waiting to be filled.

Hieber's is a compounding pharmacy.


Many dread visiting the doctor, but in Pennsylvania, that isn't because of a lack of access.

Susquehanna Polling and Research conducted a study on behalf of the Pennsylvania Medical Society to find out how many Pennsylvania residents are in close proximity to primary care providers. 

Two Pennsylvania senators convened a field hearing on opiate abuse Thursday at Allegheny General Hospital in an effort to jumpstart support for a bill filed in July.

Jeffery Smith / Flickr

The volume and complexity of health research can make it difficult for legislators to keep up.

Larry Stern, a retired health care executive, says with the growing number of interest and advocacy groups, it’s difficult to determine positions of those groups based on evidence from those based on belief.

Research by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has shown Emergency Medical Service personnel who work 12- to 24-hour shifts are more than twice as likely to be injured on the job than those who work 8-hour shifts.

Advocates are pushing a state proposal to make caregivers a more central part of a patient’s care.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA News

The Midwife Center in the Strip District expects 470 babies will be born at the center this year, almost double the births five years ago.

Executive Director Christine Haas said this increase is reflected nationally as women want more options and a holistic approach to pregnancy.

Mike Richards / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania's budget impasse has now been going for about two and a half months, and it's starting to impact some of the state's most vulnerable residents.

Allegheny County’s Human Services Department’s Area Agency on Aging (AAA) said this is coming at a time when demand for services is rising. 

AAA has a proposed budget of $51 million, but that depends on state lawmakers and the governor resolving their budget dispute.

Officials with the Pennsylvania’s eHealth Partnership Authority plan to grant about $10 million to hospitals and ambulatory providers in an effort to digitize and streamline medical services. They will be able to connect to the Pennsylvania Patient Provider Network.

This is a continuation of the grant program and effort they started last year.

Often times patients have to revisit the hospital after being discharged as part of scheduled care, but sometimes readmissions are caused by a failure of the system.

The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council – or PHC4 – recently released a report looking at preventable readmission rates statewide for patients with four conditions that often lead to hospitalization.

Gov. Tom Wolf's proposed Pennsylvania budget has a detractor: the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP).

The group, which represents all of the state's hospitals, takes issue with a $166.5 million reduction to hospital Medicaid payments. HAP's Vice President for Research Martin Ciccocioppo said the reduction is significant for a program that already doesn't cover the costs hospitals incur.

According to a recent poll conducted the Pennsylvania Medical Society, there have been changes in the experiences people have had accessing health care.

“It seems that most patients are able to access health care within a reasonable period of time,” said Karen Rizzo, a practicing physician and President of the Pennsylvania Medical Society.  “It seems that their out-of-pocket expense is increasing for about 37 percent of the patients surveyed.”

Of the 700 people polled, 53 percent said their out of pocket expenses were about the same, and 8 percent saw a reduction in cost.

On Monday, nearly five years after UPMC shut down their Braddock hospital, competitor Allegheny Health Network and Highmark opened an urgent care clinic in the community.

“We believe everyone in our region should have the opportunity to live healthier, happier lives,” said Patricia Lieberman, chief operating officer of the Allegheny Health Network.

The 12-patient room facility is in a space that was once a surface parking lot for the hospital.

A commission tasked with examining the long-term care system in Pennsylvania is prepared to submit its recommendations to Gov. Tom Corbett but not before it has one more meeting.

The Long-Term Care Commission was formed in January of this year and has until Dec. 31 to report to the governor on issues including illness prevention and caregiver support, accessibility, provision of services and quality outcomes and management.

Bonnie Rose, deputy secretary for the Office of Long-Term Living, said the commission will have the report on Corbett’s desk ahead of the deadline.

New Bill to Give Doctors Protection From Lawmakers

Aug 18, 2014

Patients trust that their doctors are acting in their best interests, with opinions formed by years of experience, training, and studying. But what if that medical opinion was actually handed down by a politician?

A new bill proposed by Pennsylvania State Senator Mike Stack (D- Philadelphia) attempts to address that issue by preventing government bodies from requiring medical personnel to make decisions that are not medically supported.

More than 12,600 Pennsylvanians are at risk of losing their federal exchange health insurance this September if they do not resolve inconsistencies in their enrollment information, according to the Pennsylvania Health Access Network.

In May, more than 970,000 people were identified by the Department of Health and Human Services as missing information or having contradictory information about their citizenship or immigration status in their data.

Single Payer Health Care... Not Yet for the United States

Jun 9, 2014
Andye / Flickr


What does Single Payer Health Care look like? How does it work? One need look no further than England, home to the world's largest single-payer health system. Sir David Nicholson, former CEO of England's National Health Service, provided some insight to the single payer health system and how it relates to health care questions posed in our country today.

Money for health care is collected through general taxation in England’s single payer system, which is then given to the department of health, and allocated out to the clinical commission groups. These groups then essentially purchase services from hospitals. The system treats over a million people every 36 hours, according to Sir Nicholson. 

But would this work in the United States? Sir Nicholson doesn’t believe so, but offers this advice for the U.S.-- get more help from medical groups themselves, rather than the government.

Steven J. Corwin Talks Academic Medical Centers Amidst Health Care Reform

Mar 17, 2014

Steven J. Corwin, chief executive officer of New York-Presbyterian Hospital, speaks about ways of preserving quality aspects of the existing health care system while reducing overall cost.

An Update on Governor Corbett's Health Care Plan

Dec 11, 2013
Talk Radio News Service

The Corbett Administration is making details of its alternative proposal to the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion available to the public.

The Governor recently held a presser on his health care plan days after releasing it online. The plan, which would allow hundreds of thousands of people to enroll in private health insurance plans subsidized with federal funds, is one step closer to receiving federal review.

90.5 WESA's Capitol Bureau Chief Mary Wilson reports on the plan from Harrisburg and says the proposal is similar to those of other states, but includes a few elements unique to the Commonwealth’s needs.

90.5 WESA

Governor Tom Corbett’s medicaid expansion plan sounds like “a step in the right direction” according to Erin Ninehouser, the Education and Outreach Director for Pennsylvania Health Access Network, but she does have some reservations.

Doctors, hospitals and patients are now more connected than ever as the majority of health care providers in the United States are making the switch to electronic health records.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced recently that it already exceeded its goal for 50 percent of doctor’s offices and 80 percent of eligible hospitals to use EHRs by the end of 2013.

According to a 2012 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey, 17 percent of physicians and 9 percent of hospitals were using EHRs in 2008.

Updated: 5:38 p.m.

The Service Employees International Union Healthcare (SEIU) Pennsylvania, along with two Democratic state senators and three state representatives filed a lawsuit against the Corbett administration over its plan to close 26 state health centers and eliminate 73 Department of Health positions.

A new report from Families USA, a nonprofit group that advocates on behalf of health care consumers, says that 896,000 Pennsylvanians will be eligible for new health insurance premium tax credits in 2014.

These tax credits will pay for health coverage under the terms of the Affordable Care Act. Families will no longer have to pay for more than a set percentage of their income for health coverage.

“The lower your income, the higher your tax credit subsidy,” said Ron Pollack, Director of Families USA, “so it's tailored to help the people who need it the most.”

The newly announced Community Paramedic Program, from Pitt’s Congress of Neighboring Communities (CONNECT), retools the image of emergency medical service personnel.

Instead of racing through city streets, sirens screaming, EMTs participating in the pilot initiative will provide regular in-home care for area residents with chronic conditions.

CONNECT is part of the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs’ Center for Metropolitan Studies and represents the City of Pittsburgh and 37 contiguous communities.

Could Pennsylvania Become a Single Payer State?

Mar 19, 2013

State Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) is once again trying to convert Pennsylvania’s healthcare system to a single payer one. Ferlo said he will reintroduce legislation that failed to come up for a vote in 2009.

Titled the Pennsylvania Family and Business Healthcare Security Act of 2013, the legislation was drawn up with the help of the non-profit single payer advocacy group Healthcare 4 All PA.

A new report out this week says Pennsylvania fails when it comes to making hospital fees transparent, resulting in patients not knowing what their hospital fees are until they are billed.

Pennsylvania, along with 28 other states, got an "F." Seven states got a "D." Only 2 states got an "A."

The report was compiled and released by The Catalyst for Payment Reform, a consortium of health care providers and the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute, a nonprofit that works to improve the affordability and quality of health care.

A study released today by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare PA found that Pennsylvania nursing homes generated $511 million in net income for 2011, but one in three failed to fully spend state funds on direct resident care.

State Senators Matt Smith (D-Allegheny / Washington) and Sean Wiley (D-Erie) proposed three bills that would mandate minimum spending levels of state appropriations as well as require nursing homes to meet and report on staffing levels.

As part of Governor Tom Corbett’s proposed 2013-2014 budget, about half of the state’s sixty health centers will be shuttering, consolidating or morphing. Lay-offs of personnel are also part of the proposal; which state officials say is an effort to modernize Pennsylvania’s public health services and save money.

Michael Wolf, Acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health says this move would be a way to deliver services to people who can’t get to the health centers.