Posts from — October 2011

St. Margaret Mary Church Health Fair

October 24, 2011   Comments Off on St. Margaret Mary Church Health Fair

Title: St. Margaret Mary Church Health Fair
Location: One Parish Place, Moon Twp (Coraopolis), PA 15108
Description: Our outreach staff will be available at this health fair to answer questions and and help families apply for free or low-cost public health programs. Stop by and see us!
Start Time: 10:00am
Date: 2011-11-05
End Time: 12:30pm

Editorial asks Gov. Corbett to weigh in on UPMC v. Highmark

October 24, 2011   Comments Off on Editorial asks Gov. Corbett to weigh in on UPMC v. Highmark

Dear Gov. Corbett: We’re about to lose our affordable UPMC access …

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Yet we never thought it could happen. Not in Pittsburgh, the home of so much world-class medicine. The city where sheiks and princes come to be healed. The place where relatives and friends drive in from out of state for cancer care, children’s surgery and specialty treatment not available where they live.

We used to take pride in having quality care that was close at hand, so much so that we’ve given willingly every year to Children’s Hospital, we’ve been happy to see taxpayer-provided grants go to UPMC facilities and we’ve watched our well-endowed neighbors offer tremendous philanthropy to build new UPMC centers.

But now we’re caught between two feuding giants — UPMC, which controls most of the region’s health care, and Highmark, which issues most of the region’s health insurance — and it’s the average folks of Western Pennsylvania who are about to be trampled. That’s because UPMC, its CEO Jeffrey Romoff, its executive officers and supposedly its 24 directors are against negotiating a new service agreement with Highmark.

After June 30, when the current 10-year contract lapses, we, as Highmark customers, will not be entitled to in-network access at most of UPMC’s 20 hospitals. A one-year rollout, or grace period, after that will let us continue to receive affordable care for 12 more months under our Highmark plans. UPMC insists, however, that the grace doesn’t apply to our relationships with its doctors. All those years of care, treatment and support — “life changing medicine” as UPMC calls it — will end eight months from now, says the hospital network.

Highmark is willing to talk about reaching a new agreement, but all UPMC wants to discuss is terms of the divorce. Well, we’re not interested. Nor do we buy the Romoff Remedy: Just switch health plans, which the $4-million-a-year executive says plenty of people do anyway “once a year.”

We won’t because we helped build the empire that is UPMC and our premiums helped create the near-monopoly that is Highmark. As so-called nonprofits under the state public charities law, they each had a bundle left after expenses last year — $406 million at UPMC and $462 million at Highmark. The way we see it, those profits, reaped from large companies and small firms, rich and poor families alike, oblige them to work things out.

Trouble is, UPMC doesn’t see it that way. That’s why Pennsylvanians must turn to their elected officials. Various members of the Legislature, thank goodness, have gotten active on the UPMC-Highmark split to try to drive the parties back to negotiations.

Rep. Dan Frankel, a Squirrel Hill Democrat, has introduced a bill that would require binding arbitration if UPMC and Highmark fail to reach an agreement covering Children’s Hospital, Magee-Womens Hospital, Hillman Cancer Center, Western Psychiatric, UPMC cancer centers and the health care workers who provide care at those facilities. The bill has 73 co-sponsors — 57 Democrats and 16 Republicans — who blanket Western Pennsylvania.

Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Penn Hills, has a bill with bipartisan support from 60 co-sponsors that would give the state insurance commissioner power to order that a contract between a feuding hospital and insurer be continued if it were in the public’s interest.

These bills are unusual. But the pressure is critical, necessary and a reminder to UPMC that it can’t profess to serve patients in one breath, then treat them like chattel in the next. Here’s where you come in, Gov. Corbett.

It’s time for you to use the power of your office. It’s why you were elected, after all. We know that, as a Republican, it goes against your grain to interfere in what some might call a business dispute. But this is no mere disagreement — it’s a public war, and a war on the public, that will take its toll on the medical treatment of innocent people, that makes this region look dysfunctional on how its health care and health insurance intersect and that will hurt Pennsylvania from an economic development standpoint.

If this kind of crisis, unfolding in your city, doesn’t call for a governor’s intervention, then we can’t imagine one that does. Gov. Corbett, it’s up to you to bring them to the table, for the health of Pittsburgh, for the sake of Pennsylvania.

Sincerely wishing it weren’t true,

3 million Highmark customers

Read more:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11296/1183974-192-0.stm?cmpid=newspanel6

Words….WOW!

October 6, 2011   1 Comment

I was raised in a home were words mattered. There was always a buzz of conversation and opinion sharing. 

We remain a reading clan, and, no shocker, a chatty family who appreciate the quick turn of phrase and the creative retort to a sibling’s teasing. 

Therefore, I celebrate two recent actions that celebrate the power of words:

  • The PA Legislature continues to move toward final passage in replacing the phrase “mental retardation” with the more acceptable “persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.” 
  • Janet Minick, a member of our Health Committee for People with Disabilities, exercised her word strength by writing, submitting and having run in the 5 October 2011 of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette an incredible and “spot on” letter-to-the-editor.  Here is the link to read this amazing piece: 

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11278/1179703-110.stm

I encourage readers of this blog to take similar actions. Words have power and through them we progress and make change.

Write On, my friends! 

sj;

Aretha knows

October 4, 2011   Comments Off on Aretha knows

In my opinion, it’s one of the best songs ever recorded. I’m talking about Aretha Franklin’s hit, “Respect.”  Shall I pause while you sing a few bars?

Respect it’s a mutual thing, something one has to earn, essential to any functioning and successful team, organization, democracy.  Now that it’s defined, we must decide if it is still observed.

I’m one who carries strong opinions and views; yet, I also am open and want to hear another persons views. While a pastor in a local church setting, I often expressed to my flock, “My office door is open. I am willing to listen, talk and discuss with you any topic.  All I ask is that you bring more than hate and rhetoric.”

That standard worked out O.K. and by it I still abide. 

That is why as we are out and about doing legislative visits in our defense of Medicaid and Medicare, I have certain standards I expect to have upheld by our elected officials.

  1. Respect your constituents and our time.  As we have been busy scheduling legislative visits, I continue to be amazed that for some offices it has taken multiple phone calls and e-mails just to get an answer. Folks, it should not be that difficult to schedule an appointment.  Especially, when we were looking for a meeting date during the week you were home in the district.
  2. Come ready to discuss with us.  We hear enough of the sound bytes and one-liners while watching cable television.  Seek to have an honest conversation with us.  We expect that of those who represent us.
  3. Whether we are in agreement or in sharp contrast of opinions, respect us as we respect the office you hold. Don’t label us. Listen to us. And, in mutual respect, we shall do the same.

This season of legislative visits has been heartening. I’m proud of our consumers and their confidence and advocacy. 

Though I would never be considered someone who “waves the flag,” these moments of conversation with our elected officials are foundational to the democracy we share and build and respect.

For many reasons, if you have not yet called or visited your elected officials, pick up the phone and schedule a visit.  Grab a pen and paper (that time honored form of communication) and write a letter.  Join in the conversation.  Respect our democracy enough to engage in its practice.

Andy Rooney inspired me!

October 3, 2011   Comments Off on Andy Rooney inspired me!

In the spirit of Andy Rooney, don’t you hate it when a blog starts…goes along….gets some followers… and then disappears much like the vaunted Steelers run defense? 

As for me, yes to both and equally so.

It has been a woefully long time since there has been a blip, a blurb, or a blog on this page.  In fact, when the last blog was posted, the Pirates were still playing and above .500 and the congress was still bitterly divided….O.K. well not everything has changed….sigh.

Well, maybe it was Andy Rooney and his parting episode, or, perhaps it was persons saying they’ve missed the blog; or, it could have been the fact that I not only want to be blogging…I need to be.  I too need to actively respond to my teachers, professors, and congregants who said, “you really need to be writing!” 

Although, there is now nothing left upon which I can vow or promise, I simply commit to do so and will hopefully be joined in the writing by some other bloggers-in-waiting.

Now is the season when thoughts and reflections and insights need to be shared, heard, and responded. 

I am excited to be back in the blog!

I thank you for your grace and will honor your returning with me to many words, wants and wishes…..I believe this particular blog has used all the alliteration I can muster. 

More good ripples to be made….

sj;

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