BLOG: Improving Health and Safety with Government That Works

By: J.J. Abbott, Deputy Press Secretary

January 19, 2016

Governor Wolf has no greater responsibility as governor than ensuring the health and safety of Pennsylvania’s residents. For Governor Wolf, advancements of health security, public safety and ensuring access to quality care were cornerstones of his first year in office.

Watch Governor Wolf talk about improving health and safety with Government That Works in 2015.

Medicaid Expansion

Perhaps the most impactful decision on so many individual lives was Governor Wolf’s announcement in February of full traditional Medicaid Expansion. Since then, more than 500,000 Pennsylvanians have enrolled and gained access to health care – keeping them from either not seeking care or going to the emergency room, which raises costs for insured residents. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report, states that expanded Medicaid experienced substantially slower Medicaid spending growth (3.4 percent) than non-expansion states (6.9 percent). The governor’s action has dropped the commonwealth’s uninsured population from 14 percent in 2013 to eight percent today.

Heroin Epidemic

In 2014, 2,400 Pennsylvanians died from drug overdoses. Governor Wolf has made addressing the crisis of heroin and opioid addiction a top priority in 2015. Governor Wolf had Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine sign a statewide standing order for naloxone, a medication that can reverse an overdose that is caused by an opioid drug, to increase access for families and friends of those suffering from the disease of addiction.

Other actions taken by the Wolf Administration include the development of the ABC-MAP prescription drug monitoring program, the creation of the interagency Heroin Task Force, the support for the use of naloxone at schools across the Commonwealth, partnering with the Center for Disease Control to combat prescription drug overdoses and equipping all Pennsylvania State Police cars and Capitol Police officers with the naloxone drug.

Health Care

Governor Wolf led his administration to ensuring more Pennsylvanians had access to affordable, quality care. In June, Governor Wolf announced all CHIP plans will provide enhanced benefits to meet Affordable Care Act requirements, guaranteeing families in this program would not face tax penalties for 2015.  Pennsylvania also ensured all CHIP health insurance plans would provide enhanced benefits to meet the minimum essential coverage requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act.

Further, Governor Wolf fought to ensure Pennsylvanian consumers would not face steep increases for 2016 rates for insurance plans offered under the Affordable Care Act. The approved rates were projected to save Pennsylvania consumers nearly $81 million compared to the rates proposed originally by insurers. Governor and First Lady Wolf also announced in October that in Pennsylvania 3D mammograms must be available to women at no extra cost.

UPMC and Highmark

For health care consumers in Western Pennsylvania, Governor Wolf led multiple efforts to ensure access to quality care – no matter what insurance card you carried. These actions include protecting maternity care and ensuring coverage of unpaid claims for Highmark customers, and leading a successful court challenge against UPMC, which guaranteed 180,000 seniors would be able to keep their health coverage.


See all of our Year in Review blog posts.

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