Fighting for Accessible and Affordable Health Care
Representative Phyllis Mundy believes that working families deserve access to affordable health care. She also believes that steps must be taken immediately to reign in health care costs. Older Pennsylvanians on fixed incomes should not have to choose between paying their household bills and paying for medications they need. That's why Phyllis is fighting to lower health care and prescription costs, as well as for better patient safety.
Working for Patient Safety and Preventing Medical Errors
Preventable medical errors have long plagued our health care system. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly two million Americans suffer each year from health care-acquired infections each year, resulting in $28 billion to $45 billion in direct medical costs annually. Anywhere between 20-70% of these infections are preventable.
In response to this crisis, Phyllis has developed legislation offering an incentive to health care providers to implement quality management systems. Quality management systems such as ISO 9000, which have been successfully implemented for years in private industry, are reducing medical errors and cutting health care costs in many parts of the globe. Under Phyllis' bill, health care providers would receive a discount in their medical malpractice insurance premiums in return for implementing a management system to streamline and improve patient care.
Fighting for Lower Health Care Costs
Phyllis knows that in addition to protecting patients, we must do even more to control the costs of the health care system.
Since the end of the Certificate of Need (CON) program in the mid-1990s, there has been no statutory requirement that health care facilities prove their need, or their community's need, to buy expensive new equipment for various medical services. As a result, there has been an increase in the number of ambulatory surgical facilities, diagnostic imaging facilities, and similar non-hospital health care facilities around the state. The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council believes this increase adds unnecessary cost to PA's health care system. To address this issue, Phyllis has introduced a bill to reinstate the CON program, which would help curb escalating health care costs.
In addition, Phyllis has introduced legislation to set minimum staffing ratios of registered nurses to patients in Pennsylvania hospitals. Statistics show that patients cared for in hospitals with higher RN staffing levels are far less likely to acquire preventable infections. And not only do preventing these infections reduce loss of life, but research indicates they could also reduce health care costs by as much as 30%.
As you may already know, Phyllis has also been fighting for years to hold Pennsylvania's Blue Cross and Blue Shield organizations accountable for the way they manage ratepayer dollars. These companies continue to amass millions of dollars in surplus while raising consumer rates every year -- often in double digits. Phyllis achieved a victory against the Blues in February of 2005 when PA's Insurance Commissioner placed a temporary cap on the Blues' surplus. As a result of her decision, Blue Cross of Northeastern PA is no longer allowed to build further surplus at subscriber expense. Phyllis continues to advocate on behalf of her constituents when Blue Cross requests unnecessary rate increases and to look for every opportunity at the legislative level to lower health care costs.
Making Prescription Drugs Affordable for Seniors
We've read the news stories. Prescription drug costs rising. HMO's dropping prescription drug coverage. Seniors rationing medications to make ends meet. Something needs to be done.
Phyllis advocated for the passage of legislation that expanded the PACE and PACENET eligibility for more seniors, while eliminating the high deductible and reducing co-payments for all seniors in the program.