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Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

TV Smart Talk - Transforming Health

Written by Nell McCormack Abom | Nov 14, 2012 10:13 AM

So much for Gov. Mitt Romney’s plan to repeal Obamacare on Day One of his administration. Romney’s loss removes the biggest threat to implementation of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. President Obama signed the ACA into law in March 2010 but it has faced a gauntlet of legal and political challenges.

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To help Pennsylvanians better understand the dramatic changes afoot in health care, witf launches Transforming Health, a dynamic, multimedia public-information campaign.  It is a follow up to the station's Emmy- and Edward R. Murrow Award-winning Facing Cancer Together initiative.  We'll discuss the campaign and some of the key changes coming to health care on Smart Talk, Thursday night at 8 on witf-TV.

Transforming Health “covers the shift in the American health care system from a primary focus on treating individuals when they are sick and injured to establishing relationships between individuals and health care providers to manage overall health and well-being.”

witf's listeners, viewers and web users will hear about new concepts, like having a home-base for every patient—a single point of contact for our medical records, diagnoses and referrals. We will discover what it means for a hospital or health system to become an “accountable care organization”—and what responsibilities come to us as citizens and patients. Transforming Health will talk with city and county elected officials about how the right decisions on zoning, transportation and schools can improve health quality for every resident.

States face a November 16 deadline to tell the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services whether they will set up healthcare exchanges (basically, Internet-based one-stop-shops for competitive, affordable health insurance plans) or let the federal government do it for them.  Pennsylvania has accepted about $34 million in federal funds to create an exchange but has made little progress in doing so.

The state Insurance Department released a letter sent to Governor Corbett on Friday from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  "While HHS seems to still be requiring the states to submit a “declaration” by November 16th if they intend to pursue a state-based exchange, the new extended deadlines appear to indicate flexibility in the overall timeline -- which we see as a positive development," says Rosanne Placey, director of the Office of Press and Communications for the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance.  Placey says the department awaits more answers from HHS before determining whether to take the lead in creating a Pennsylvania exchange.

Among the highlights of the ACA are expanded preventive healthcare, like mammograms and cancer screenings. Young adults can stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26. Patients who have chronic or pre-existing conditions now can buy affordable coverage. By 2014, everyone must have health insurance or pay a penalty for opting out.

Whether buying medical coverage for yourself, your family or your business, there are questions about the new regime and what it means to your health and your finances. Our panel of experts can discuss all aspects of the transformation:  Karen E. Jones, M.D., F.A.C.P., medical director of quality and innovation at WellSpan Health, Dr. Joseph Cincotta, medical director of PinnacleHealth, Paul Conslato, M.D., F.A.C.P., director of clinical affairs at Lancaster General Health Physicians, and Dr. Rick Hammer, vice president of clinical market development at Capital Blue Cross.

It’s an exciting initiative and we want you to join the conversation. Call live at 8 p.m. Thursday to 1-800-729-7532, email, post a comment here, or to Facebook or Twitter.

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