Take Action: State Advocacy

HAP continues to advocate with state officials and lawmakers to support Pennsylvania's hospitals during this challenging time. The Pennsylvania health care community cannot fight this pandemic, nor recover from it, alone. Learn more below about how organizations and individuals can advocate to support the health care community.

HAP's 2021 COVID-19 Advocacy Priorities

  • Dedicating state and federal funding to provide financial support to hospitals 
  • Retaining administrative flexibilities and waivers 
  • Securing COVID-19 related liability protections 
  • Providing appropriate payment for COVID-19-related care
  • Ensuring hospitals have the resources they need, including PPE and testing supplies, and that equitable distribution of the vaccines occurs for Pennsylvania and for hospitals within Pennsylvania

Take Action Items

Establish Liability Protections During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Background: Frontline health care workers are risking their lives to care for and protect Pennsylvanians during this pandemic. During these unprecedented conditions, Pennsylvania should allow these workers to continue to treat COVID-19 patients without fear of being sued.

HAP is asking lawmakers to provide legal protections to health care workers, hospitals, and other health care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On May 6, 2020, Governor Wolf signed an Executive Order to provide medical liability protections for health care providers during the COVID-19 crisis. This order protects individual, licensed medical providers—including physicians, nurses, and other health care workers—from lawsuits that arrive from providing emergency services related to COVID-19.

Unfortunately, this order does not extend to Pennsylvania’s hospitals.

HAP is asking lawmakers to include hospitals in these protections, to prevent frivolous lawsuits being brought against the facilities where medical personnel providing front line medical care are employed.

    • Call or email your lawmakers through Healthy Me PA to demand that they recognize the risks that hospitals are taking in the midst of the pandemic. A letter has been created for your use
    • Utilize and share the TAKE ACTION link with your health care community to contact your legislators in the General Assembly and the Governor’s Office and ask them for medical liability protections for health care workers
    • Share the graphic HAP has developed for your use on social media outlets or via email

Advocacy Tools:

      • Customizable Liability Protections Letter to Lawmakers
      • Protect Health Care Workers Graphic for Social Media
      • Draft letter to Governor Wolf
      • Joint letter to Governor Wolf and Members of the General Assembly
      • Joint letter to Members of the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation

Establish Insurer Payment Solutions

Background:  Congress and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services made important legislative and regulatory changes to expand the Medicare accelerated/advanced payment programs, which allows hospitals and other eligible providers to request accelerated Medicare payments. This is intended to serve as a tool to help hospitals access stable cash flow.

HAP is advocating to establish periodic payments to health care providers from commercial insurers and within the Medicaid program, similar to recent changes that were made in the Medicare program.

HAP Contacts

If you have questions or would like more information about HAP's state advocacy efforts, contact  Heather Tyler, vice president, state legislative advocacy, or Sarah Lawver, director, advocacy activation. Media inquiries should be directed to Liam Migdail, director, media relations.

Legislative Commission Examines Intersection of COVID-19, Diabetes

Reports calls for legislative action to address financial barriers to treatment

Individuals with diabetes have been among the most critically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, due both to their increased risk of developing more severe cases of COVID-19 and financial challenges that have increased barriers to treatment.

That was one of the key takeaways from a report recently issued by the General Assembly’s Joint State Government Commission. This latest report is the fifth the commission has produced in response to a 2014 directive from lawmakers to study the public health and financial ramifications of diabetes and make recommendations to inform Pennsylvania’s response. More than 1 million Pennsylvanians—about one in 13—are diabetic.

The commission found that not only are people with diabetes at much greater risk of death or severe complications from COVID-19, they are also more likely to experience financial challenges that complicate access to treatment and, in turn, compound their health risks.

The report cited research demonstrating that:

  • Working from home is not an option for half of working people with diabetes. Of those required to perform in-person work, 90 percent often or sometimes work within six feet of others and only 70 percent work in settings where masking is required
  • During June 2020, the unemployment rate among people with diabetes was 18 percent, compared with the national rate of 12 percent
  • 33 percent of working people with diabetes lost some or all income as a result of the pandemic, forcing them to turn to savings, loans, and stimulus money to pay for medical expenses
  • A quarter of people with diabetes have turned to self-rationing supplies, including insulin, to cut the cost of care

Even outside of the added financial pressures of the pandemic, diabetes is among the most expensive diseases. A 2017 study by the American Diabetes Association found that people diagnosed with diabetes incur, on average, $16,750 in medical expenditures per year, more than double what their medical expenses would be without diabetes. That same study pegged the total cost of insulin and other medications to control blood glucose at $31 billion, a 45 percent jump over the previous five years after adjusting for inflation. Out-of-pocket insulin costs can be hundreds of dollars per month for many patients.

The commission’s report notes that diabetes in Pennsylvania has largely followed national trends. The commission cited research forecasting that the number of U.S. adults diagnosed with diabetes could nearly triple between 2014 and 2060 and that the future burden on public health and the economy will only increase without additional intervention.

To address this challenge, the commission offered several recommendations to the General Assembly. That recommended legislative action includes:

  • Banning non-medical switching of patient medications by insurance plans
  • Mandating that health plans significantly limit step therapy regulations for patients with diabetes and other chronic illnesses
  • Capping patients’ out-of-pocket payments for insulin and other essential diabetes medications
  • Mandating that health care plans treat insulin and essential equipment necessary for diabetes maintenance as preventive coverage so that it would require no copay

The report also includes recommendations for health care providers related to screening, early intervention, and treatment of diabetes; encourages routine evaluation of public programs related to diabetes and obesity prevention programs to ensure their effectiveness; and calls for greater education and prevention efforts that target high risk communities as well as racial and gender disparities in diabetes cases.

Read the full report here.

HAP participates in the Pennsylvania Diabetes Action Network, which represents patient and professional organizations in a unified effort to change the way diabetes is viewed and treated in Pennsylvania. For more information, contact Robert Shipp III, PhD, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, HAP’s vice president, population health and clinical affairs.