Pennsylvania Physicians Push For Solutions To ACA Health Insurance Problems
LCCC NURSING FORUM ELECTS OFFICERS-The Luzerne County Community College Nursing Forum recently elected officers to serve for the 2013-14 academic year. The nursing students participate in several community service projects and educational programs throughout the school year. Shown are the new officers, seated from left: Hannah Smith, secretary; Mary Buckley,; and Susan Porter Allen, Mountain Top, president. Back: Jennifer Sorber, vice president; and Peggy Sosnak, R. N., advisor, Nursing Forum and professor, nursing, LCCC.

Growing concerns about problems associated with hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians losing their current health insurance or not being able to enroll for newly introduced insurance Marketplace plans due to documented problems with the Affordable Care Act’s Marketplace website have prompted physicians from across the state to press elected leaders for solutions.

“More needs to be done for these patients,” said Bruce A. MacLeod, MD, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society. “I’m hearing from physicians across the state that they’re growing more concerned for patients who are dealing with issues related to insurance coverage.”

Physician concerns have prompted the organization not only to push for solutions in Pennsylvania, but to also pressure elected leaders at the national level.

In October, members of the Pennsylvania Medical Society passed a resolution at its annual House of Delegates meeting to work with the governor, state legislators, and insurance commissioner to assure those experiencing cancellations in the state would be able to renew or extend their existing insurance contracts.

Introduced by physicians from Delaware County, the resolution also took the issue to the American Medical Association, which just this week agreed that patients should be able to maintain current coverage or transition to alternative coverage options if they have received cancellation notices from their health insurance companies as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

“Every day that goes by without answers to the problems we’ve experienced builds stress for these patients, and they don’t deserve that,” said Dr. MacLeod. “More time is needed to work out these problems that our federal government is experiencing.”

On the state level, Governor Tom Corbett recently urged President Barack Obama to fix the situation. And, Corbett’s insurance commissioner is also investigating what can be done on a state level.

But it comes down to what happens in our nation’s capital.

According to James Goodyear, MD, a past president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society who now chairs the Pennsylvania delegation to the American Medical Association, other states agree with the Pennsylvania physicians on this issue.

“When we raised this issue at the AMA meeting, we got innumerable kudos from other delegations with strong testimony from the Great Lakes Caucus, Florida, and Texas, just to mention a few,” Dr. Goodyear says. “As physicians concerned for patients, we’re trying to find a solution with our national leaders through all available channels.”

For now, though, and without definitive action and specific answers, some patients are left wondering what’s next. For its part, the Pennsylvania Medical Society knows the feeling since physicians say they too are left wondering.

“We’re all in the dark –patients and doctors –about what comes next,” said Dr. MacLeod. “Hopefully, the answer comes soon.”