10/30/2010 - Liability and Health News Update
Election in PA - Governor, Senate, House of Representatives
by Donna Baver Rovito
Editor, Liability and Health News Update
Author, Pennsylvania's Disappearing Doctors
Dear Doctors, Nurses, Health Care Providers, and Concerned Citizens,
The most important thing any physician - or patient, for that matter - can do to ensure quality health care this year is to VOTE.
Not working longer or harder, or converting to electronic records, or getting more CME's, or reading more journals, or attending more professional meetings, or anything like that.
It's simple. VOTE. And TALK ABOUT who you're voting for and why.
Physicians can make the difference in a tight race. A mere 312 votes got comedian Al Franken elected to the US Senate in Minnesota in 2008. (And wasn't THAT a joke?) There are over 12,000 physicians in Minnesota. If more of them had participated, the outcome might have been different.
There are roughly 30,000 physicians in Pennsylvania. How big a difference can YOU make?
Why you need to participate in the political process:
Far too many people who never attended medical school, taken care of patients, or tried not to get emotional giving bad news to a patient's family have been making extremely important decisions about how you will practice medicine and how your patients will get health care in the years to come.
So you NEED to get involved to help choose the people who make those decisions.
How to Get Involved:
You can click on a candidate's website and go to the "Donate" page. Even a small contribution can help - especially if you support several campaigns. Send $50 to five or six campaigns, and see what a big impact doctors can have on the election.
Or sign up to volunteer, making phone calls or knocking on doors, or working the polls in your white coat.
You can post a comment at the end of a newspaper story when you read your local paper online about why you support your candidate, or call local talk radio. Or post on a local Blog you frequent. Or post on your OWN blog or website.
You can talk to family, friends, colleagues and patients about your candidate - a button on your white coat or literature in your waiting room can spark conversations.
And yes, your patients really DO care about what you think. Everyone is confused and concerned about health care policy, and as physicians are still one of the few groups Americans trust and respect, you may well be able to help a patient choose just by letting him or her know where YOU stand. It's not unprofessional, as long as you don't bring it into the exam room or force a conversation a patient doesn't want to have. You know the boundaries.
While this letter will contain live links to candidates on BOTH sides, I'm going to go out on a limb (so what else is new?) and include my PERSONAL recommendations.
I've highlight the candidates I SUPPORT in yellow. Without exception, I support the candidates who support doctors, patients, and quality health care.
Of course, I respect everyone's right to disagree with me (some days it seems like EVERYONE takes advantage of that right!)
And yes, unlike some other election cycles, all of my choices for Congress ARE Republican this time, not because I'm a pull-the-lever Republican, but because everyone who voted for the health care bill - or PPACA - or supports it is a Democrat.
Not a single Republican voted YES for the PPACA, and most Republican candidates are campaigning on Defunding, Repealing and Replacing it (a promise they would be advised to KEEP once elected, if the rumblings I'm hearing among voters are indicative of public sentiment.) To be fair, 34 Democrats voted NO - so the only thing that was bipartisan about the health care bill was the opposition to it.
Please know that I've done a LOT of research on the election and the health care bill in the past months, but in the interest of full disclosure, I have assisted in the campaign efforts of several of these candidates, including Pat Toomey, Charlie Dent, Jim Gerlach, and Lou Barletta, so I'm a little biased about them.
But I ALSO know that I'm RIGHT ABOUT THEM, and that they will do whatever it takes to ensure quality health care for Pennsylvanians.
OK, here goes, and please know that your efforts are appreciated.
Donna Baver Rovito
Editor, Liability and Health News Update
Pennsylvania's Health Care Woes
Pennsylvania has some unique health care issues - our medical liability premiums, despite some progress in our court system, are the second highest in the nation. Physician reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid continues to be among the lowest in the nation. There are continuing questions about the Mcare Fund and counties and specialties with access problems. We're still having trouble retaining young doctors we train and Pennsylvania's physicians are some of the oldest in the nation. So it's important that we elect a new Governor and Lt. Governor who understand those issues and will work with physicians to solve them.
Click on the links to learn more:
((My personal recommendations are in bold red, just like this note....DBR))
Tom Corbett (R) - Attorney General & Ex-US Attorney. Corbett has a wide base of support among physicians, including a Physicians for Corbett website: http://physiciansforcorbett.com, and has received the endorsement of the political action committee of the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMPAC): Pennsylvania Physicians Back Corbett.
Corbett is one of the state Attorneys General participating in a lawsuit opposing the insurance mandate in the PPACA.
Following are Corbett's positions on various aspects of health care, as compiled by The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania:
Would promote health insurance competition, on the basis of the cost and quality of health care services, in addition to data transparency, to ensure informed consumer decision-making.
Would support healthy lifestyles by developing innovative evidence-based health promotion and requiring individual accountability.
Would support medical homes to encourage preventive care and better care coordination, reducing the need for hospital care.
Would support expanding programs to manage chronic conditions.
Would support implementing new payment systems that link reimbursements to better outcomes and performance.
Would support efforts to prevent insurance fraud by advancing information technology and strengthening penalties to root out fraud.
Would support repeal of Joint and Several Liability to ensure co-defendants in liability cases only pay their fair share of liability damages.
Would support numerous additional legal reforms to make Pennsylvania more physician and business friendly.
Would support retiring the Mcare Fund, an antiquated insurance coverage program that deters physicians and health professionals from staying in, or coming to, Pennsylvania to practice medicine. Would support incentives to recruit and retain physicians to practice in Pennsylvania, including a physician loan forgiveness program, retiring the Mcare Fund, and reducing barriers and time delays for licensing.
Would support reasonable scope of practice changes to allow health care professionals to practice to the full extent of their abilities.
Dan Onorato (D) - Allegheny County Executive, Ex-Allegheny County Controller & Ex-Pittsburgh City Councilman
Following are Onorato's positions on various aspects of health care, as compiled by The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania:
Would support increasing competition in order to maximize options for consumers and to save money for business.
Would support the expansion of cost-effective strategies that improve treatment of chronic illnesses.
Would support policies and incentives that improve the quality of patient care and promote the efficient use of taxpayer resources.
Would support electronic medical records via the Pennsylvania Health Information Exchange.
Would support efforts to fight insurance fraud.
Would not support repeal of Joint and Several Liability, therefore continuing the practice of requiring co-defendants in liability cases to pay more than their fair share of damages when others cannot pay.
Would not support other legal reform changes.
Would support keeping Mcare Fund permanent. The Mcare Fund is an antiquated insurance coverage program that deters physicians and health professionals from staying in, or coming to, Pennsylvania to practice medicine.
Would support re-authorization of Mcare abatement to help physicians pay the cost of Mcare coverage.
Would support Center for Health Careers to encourage adequate supply of health care workforce.
Would support physician loan forgiveness program.
Would support reasonable scope of practice changes to allow health care professionals to practice to the full extent of their abilities.
Scott Conklin (D) - State Rep., Ex-Centre County Commissioner, Businessman, Carpenter & '01 US Rep. Nominee
Jim Cawley (R) - Bucks County Commissioner, Attorney & Ex-State College Republican Chair
Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate and House of Representatives Races
Much of this information comes from the two excellent sources: http://www.politics1.com/pa.htm and http://www.pa2010.com/candidates/
Pat Toomey (R) - Ex-Congressman, Club for Growth President, Businessman & '04 Candidate who came very close to unsea-ting Arlen Specter in that primary and whose primary challenge was the reason for Arlen Specter's party switch.
Toomey opposed the PPACA and has pledged to "Defund, Repeal and Replace" it with commonsense reforms to reduce costs and preserve the doctor patient relationship. Toomey has widespread physician support, including an active Doctors for Toomey coalition (firstname.lastname@example.org) which is distributing Toomey's "Doctor Approved" health care flyer in waiting rooms all over the state as well as holding numerous listening and press events in doctors' offices throughout PA.
Toomey has received financial support and endorsements from the American Medical Association PAC, the PA Medical Society PAC Board, Doctors for Patient Care (D4PC), the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons and "Physicians for Freedom."
In addition, a Pennsylvania family physician made a commercial for his campaign: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAQ01PXd4wc&feature=player_embedded.
Joe Sestak (D) - http://sestak.house.gov/ - A former Navy admiral and two-term congressman in Delaware County, Sestak rode an anti-incumbent wave and a brilliantly- executed TV strategy to a May primary victory of party-switching Arlen Specter. Sestak voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and argued on the Floor of the House that the bill should contain a "robust public option." Sestak's campaign website identifies a coalition called Health Professionals for Sestak which has four members, including two from New Jersey and Mr. Sestak himself.
U.S. House of Representatives:
Incumbents are marked with an asterisk* and both official and campaign websites are linked. Opponents' campaign sites are linked. It will be noted if the candidate has support from physician advocacy groups (financial contributions are listed in public records for the 2009-2010 cycle, and may not necessarily indicate support in the 2010 election unless otherwise noted), whether the candidate voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or signed the discharge petition for repeal of the PPACA. Pennsylvania's Congressional delegation is 19 seats.
Bob Brady (D)* - (Campaign Site) - YES on PPACA.
Pia Varma (R/Write-In) - Businesswoman & Libertarian Activist - Supports tort reform.
Chaka Fattah (D)* - (Campaign Site) - YES on PPACA.
Rick Hellberg (R) - Financial Planner - Supports repeal of PPACA.
Kathy Dahlkemper (D)* - (Campaign Site) - YES on PPACA.
Mike Kelly (R) - Ex-Butler City Councilman & Auto Dealer - Supports repeal of PPACA.
Jason Altmire (D)* - (Campaign Site) - NO on PPACA..
Keith Rothfus (R) - Attorney & Ex-US Homeland Security Official.
Glenn Thompson (R)* - (Campaign Site) - NO on PPACA - Support from AMA, 2009-2010 cycle - Signed Discharge Motion for Repeal of PPACA.
Michael Pipe (D) - Recent College Graduate & Democratic Activist - supports PPACA, wants Medicare buy-in or public option added.
Vernon Etzel (Libertarian) - Ex-Ashland Township Tax Assessor, Salesman & '00 State Sen. Candidate
Jim Gerlach (R)* - (Campaign Site) - NO on PPACA - Support from AMA - Signed Discharge Motion for Repeal of PPACA - considerable physician support, including "Doctors for Gerlach" organization.
Manan Trivedi (D) - Iraq War Veteran & Physician, worked as health policy advisor for Obama Presidential campaign - Supports public option for health care reform - although a physician, no doctors' groups are listed on endorsement page
[Incumbent it Joe Sestak (D)* - Candidate for US Senate in 2010 who voted YES on PPACA -Open Seat]
Bryan Lentz (D) - State Rep., Attorney & Iraq War Veteran - No statement on PPACA.
Pat Meehan (R) - Ex-US Attorney, Ex-Delaware County District Attorney & Ex-Congressional Aide - Supports health care reforms like tort reform, association pools, purchasing insurance across state lines - does not support PPACA.
Jim Schneller (Constitution) - Marketing Executive
Patrick Murphy (D)* - (Campaign Site) - YES on PPACA.
Mike Fitzpatrick (R) - Former Congressman, Ex-Bucks County Commissioner & Attorney - Supports repeal of PPACA - Considerable physician support.
Bill Shuster (R)* - (Campaign Site) - NO on PPACA - Signed Discharge Motion for Repeal of PPACA.
Tom Connors (D) - Retired TV Station General Manager - No website to consult
Chris Carney (D)*- (Campaign Site) - YES on PPACA
Tom Marino (R) - Ex-US Attorney & Ex-Lycoming County District Attorney - Supports health care reforms like tort reform, interstate health insurance purchases and equalizing tax breaks for individuals - does not support PPACA.
Paul Kanjorski (D)* - (Campaign Site) - YES on PPACA
Lou Barletta (R) - Hazleton Mayor, Businessman & '08/'02 Nominee - Supports repeal of PPACA.
Mark Critz (D)* - (Campaign Site) - Serving the remainder of the late John Murtha's seat, won in a special election with the current opponent - entered office after health care vote. Health care is not listed as one of the issues on his campaign website.
Tim Burns (R) - Businessman - Supports repeal of PPACA.
Allyson Schwartz (D)* - (Campaign Site) - YES on PPACA.
Dee Adcock (R) - Businessman & Community Activist - Opposes PPACA, proposes free market reforms instead.
Mike Doyle (D)* - (Campaign Site) - YES on PPACA
Melissa Haluszczak (R) - Paralegal & Tea Party Activist - Supports health care reform, but not PPACA.
Ed Bortz (Green) - Poet & Peace Activist - Supports "universal single-payer health care system" and "the new national standard work week should be 32 hours work for 40 hours of pay."
Charlie Dent (R)* - (Campaign Site) - NO on PPACA - Signed Discharge Motion for Repeal of PPACA. Considerable local physician support, longtime supporter of tort reform. Past and current support from AMA and national Anesthesia society.
John Callahan (D) - Bethlehem Mayor - Announced support of PPACA the day after it passed.
Jake Towne (Independent) - Chemical Engineer. There are no health care positions on his campaign website, but he does say we can ensure our liberty by waging "peace and love."
Joe Pitts (R)* - (Campaign Site) - NO on PPACA - Signed Discharge Motion for Repeal of PPACA.
Lois Herr (D) - College Professor, Author & '04/'06 Nominee - Statement on health care sounds like she supports PPACA - strong emphasis on reproductive health.
Tim Holden (D)* - (Campaign Site) NO on PPACA - Supports "affordable, quality health care to Pennsylvanians who need it without putting our economy in jeopardy."
Dave Argall (R) - State Senator, Ex-State Rep. & College Instructor - Supports repeal of PPACA and replacing it with extending tax benefits for health insurance to individuals, allowing purchasing across state lines and creation of association health plans.
Tim Murphy (R)*- (Campaign Site) - NO on PPACA - Signed Discharge Motion for Repeal of PPACA - PhD in Psychology, Lt. Cmdr in Naval Reserve Medical Service Corps specializing in post traumatic stress disorder, Co-Chair House Doctors' Caucus.
Dan Connolly (D) - Attorney & Ex-Congressional Aide - No statements on health care policy on campaign website.
Todd Platts (R)* - (Campaign Site) - NO on PPACA - Signed Discharge Motion for Repeal of PPACA - says "Congress should fix what is broken in our nation's health care system, while being certain not to break what is not."
Ryan Sanders (D) - Businessman - Health care statements on campaign website compare the House, Senate and Obama's health care plans and clearly have not been updated since the PPACA was passed.
Josh Monighan (Independent) - Lawn Care Company Owner & Libertarian Activist - supports free market health care solutions, tort reform. No statement on PPACA.
There. Everything you need to either make choices, or find more information.
Please get involved. Don't forget to vote. Make sure everyone you know who agrees with votes, too.
And please pass this along to your friends and colleagues in the medical profession, so that Pennsylvania's doctors can have the impact we SHOULD have on this year's election and the ongoing health care debate at both the state and federal levels.
Donna Baver Rovito
This LIABILITY AND HEALTH NEWS UPDATE "newsletter" is a free service which I provide, as a volunteer, to help supply medical liability reform and health care reform news and information, legislative updates, and political insight to physicians, patients, liability reform and quality health care advocates. NO ONE pays me to do this. I am not employed by any physician or health care reform advocacy or liability reform organization, political party or candidate, although I volunteer for several. I am a quality health care, physician, and patient advocate, breast cancer survivor, physician's spouse, journalist, political noisemaker, mom, and freelance writer. I am not nor will I ever claim to be unbiased (I am....biased, I mean), unlike many in the mainstream media. Most information in this newsletter is copied and pasted from other sources, and will always be identified with links. Opinions and clarifications are my own, and do not reflect the official position of any physician or patient advocacy organization, tort reform, or health care reform group unless stated as such. My opinions are placed in double parentheses (("my opinion")), italicized and appear in blue.
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