Gov. Wolf Implores Federal Government to Address Rising Health Care Costs

March 05, 2019

Harrisburg, PA – Gov. Tom Wolf today sent a letter to Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, at the senator’s request for suggestions to address the skyrocketing costs of health care and health insurance.

In the extensive letter, Gov. Wolf outlined several ways to make health care more affordable, understandable, and reliable. Read the full letter here.

“We must be bolder to address the rising cost of health care and it is imperative that Congress work towards commonsense solutions,” Gov. Wolf said. “First, we must tackle the underlying costs of health care delivery to allow for more affordable health care coverage, and second, we must work to ensure patients can reply on predictable health care costs and avoid unexpected costs when possible.”

Gov. Wolf’s recommendations include reducing the underlying costs of health care delivery by:

  • Providing comprehensive, whole-person coverage currently included in the Affordable Care Act so that consumers will be able to maintain their health rather than postpone care until conditions require sudden, intense and expensive medical intervention.
  • Creating cost-effective, understandable, accurate and actionable transparency tools that give consumers the tools they need to make informed decisions.
  • Moving toward value-based payments that encourage high quality, necessary care and move away from pay-for-volume structures that only incentivized the over utilization of health care.
  • Stopping the meteoric rise in prescription costs, which account for more than 20 percent of the claims insurance companies pay in Pennsylvania on behalf of enrollees.
  • Fostering competition to decrease health care costs and improve quality of care.
  • Embracing emerging technologies’ potential to curb escalating health care costs.
  • Changing the scope-of-practice laws, in particular for nurses and physician assistants, which are tied to more cost-effective and productive care.

Gov. Wolf’s letter also addressed reducing consumers’ unanticipated health care costs by eliminating surprise balance billing, and facility fees that occur when hospitals purchase outpatient services such as physician practices and then attach a facility fee to services performed at these practices.

Gov. Wolf has made affordable, accessible health care a priority since he first took office in 2015. That same year, he expanded Medicaid and now more than 720,000 people have access to this critical health care benefit. As well, Pennsylvania’s uninsured rate is at a historic low at 5.5 percent.

“We share the vital goals of providing quality, affordable health insurance coverage while stemming the unsustainable growth of health care costs,” Gov. Wolf said. “I hope that you find my feedback to be constructive in this regard. States play a critical role in ensuring consumers have access to health insurance and security in knowing they will be protected from catastrophic health care costs, but we can’t do it alone.

“Thank you again for your interest in our feedback and the feedback of all states. I look forward to further discussions.”

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