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State Lawmakers Discuss Solutions to Improve Access to Care

March 07, 2024

This afternoon, the Pennsylvania House Professional Licensure Committee and Health Committee hosted a joint hearing focused on improving access to care.

The hearing highlighted the roadblocks that stand in the way of care, including a shortage of providers, the commonwealth’s challenging medical liability climate, and inadequate reimbursement that threatens the long-term sustainability of services throughout the health care continuum.

During the hearing, HAP President and CEO Nicole Stallings emphasized the need to support the health care workforce and solutions to ensure patients receive the care they need to live healthy lives.

“Pennsylvania’s workforce shortage is among the most persistent and severe in the nation,” Stallings said. “Our public payor reimbursement has not kept up with the cost of delivering care, and we must make it easier for Pennsylvanians to connect with health care providers.”

In testimony, HAP emphasized the following key points:

  • The bottom line:  A strong health care workforce is critical to the health of Pennsylvania and our communities. Focused legislation and policy can help address provider shortages and grow the workforce.
  • Venue concerns:  A return to “venue shopping” for medical liability claims directly affects access to care. For rural practitioners—especially in highly needed specialties like obstetrics—increased malpractice costs can put critical services at risk.
  • Supporting care:  Hospitals are strained as increasing costs outpace payments. Updating public payor reimbursement rates to reflect the cost of care will support hospitals and the communities they serve.
  • Telehealth:  Telehealth helps eliminate barriers for patients who would struggle to be seen due to distance, mobility restrictions, work obligations, or transportation limitations. Virtual care is playing a larger role for both physical and behavioral health appointments. Pennsylvania must ensure that payment cannot be denied simply because care is provided via telehealth.
  • Transportation:  Increasing funding/grants for EMS and other transport services will support access to care, especially in rural communities.

The hearing and HAP’s testimony are available online.