Smart Talk

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.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Wolf scraps Healthy PA; ACA deadline this weekend

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Feb 9, 2015 3:21 PM
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What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, February 10, 2015:

Almost 1.3 million people in Pennsylvania were uninsured in 2012 -- an increase of more 150,000 from 2011.  This contrasts sharply with the national trend of declining uninsured populations.

Former Gov. Tom Corbett opposed accepting money from the federal government to expand Medicaid that would provide health insurance to the uninsured.  Instead, his administration devised a plan called Healthy PA which would help the uninsured buy insurance from private insurers.

Healthy PA was designed to integrate PA's original 14 health care plans into 3 new ones, with a goal to simplify and streamline the system. Since the beginning of enrollment of Healthy PA on December.1, thousands of Pennsylvanians have applied, and it is estimated that 600,000 of them are eligible for coverage.

Barely a month after Healthy PA's rollout, Governor Tom Wolf has announced his plan to transition from Healthy PA to a Medicaid expansion.

The move is sure to prompt more questions that we'll address on Tuesday's Smart Talk.  Joining us are WITF's Transforming Health reporter Ben Allen and Antoinette Kraus of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network.

Also on Smart Talk, the deadline for open enrollment of the federal health insurance marketplace is this Sunday.  We'll answer questions on that front too.

Resources suggested on the program:

Pennsylvania Health Access Network: 1-877-570-3642

Health Insurance Marketplace: 1-855-274-5626

U.S. Supreme Court considers case that targets tax credits under Affordable Care Act.  Who could be affected?

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Lynn Keltz

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  • TrinaB img 2015-02-10 09:13

    I spent almost 2 hours trying to wade my way through healthy PA and in the end I could not afford insurance anyway. I do currently qualify for a tax credit, pretty substantial too, but I am afraid to use it as I expect my current under/un employed status to change in June. If I end up making more than my anticipated yearly income I'll likely have to pay a huge part of that credit back. So looks like I have to go uninsured for the next 10 months and pay the fine next year.

    I am very disappointed in the end results the Affordable Care Act.

    Trina B
    USMC/USAF Res Ret.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-02-10 09:25

    Fredrick emails:
    Medicaid does not guarantee access to care. It can be very difficult at the present time to get into a doctor’s office and increasing the Medicaid population will make the problem worse. In Oregon, with their expansion of Medicaid, ER visits significantly increased. Why the problems with access – Medicaid pays the average physician 10-15% of charges – and most of the time the provider loses money treating the Medicaid patient. This is especially a problem for surgical specialists.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-02-10 09:40

    Anne from Carlisle emails:
    As a parent to a 15 year old son with autism, I am concerned about expanding Medicaid when there are waiting lists for supports and services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The waiting lists are due to inadequate Medicaid funding. Will expanding Medicaid bring in more dollars for this population?

  • jjones img 2015-02-10 09:43

    I'm retired and have Medicare, which requires that I make choices between various insurance carriers, choices that my employer used to make for all of us - and the choices for that employer (a college) were not unlimited. In fact, they were very limited. Each year, someone in the Human Resources went shopping for the college to see what could be found that would allow for the most coverage at the least cost. Now on Medicare, I must do that for myself. I imagine that it what is happening to people on the ACA, etc. no?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-02-10 09:48

    Anna emails:
    I am mother of two children. I had recently accepted position for PA State – surprise – PA State does not cover dependents for the first six months of employment. My children, one with a serious health condition were without health insurance !!!

    Any comments?


  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-02-10 09:55

    A listener emails:
    I am a supporter of the Affordable Health Care, and benefitted from it last year. While it was still expensive for me, as I had no income, it was still cheaper than the COBRA benefits I had been paying for.
    As you well know, a lot of confusion surrounds the system, and that extends to being afraid to make the initial phone call. I believe the reason for that is that many people listen to what others say without getting the facts for themselves.
    I think it would be really interesting, and beneficial to have someone who really is enrolling volunteer to do so online, so that we can all listen in to the actual process, without, of course, the sensitive information such as SS# and the name and address, and possibly employer. My personal belief is that this fear and lack of information is what keeps a lot of people from utilizing the process.
    But as far as all the rest, including current income, it might help to de-mystify the process of enrollment.
    Also, did not know until listening to this show that there was something that was PA-based.
    Thanks for all the great topics you bring to the show – however, it keeps me from starting work each day.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-02-10 09:57

    Mike emails:
    I am a supporter of the Affordable Health Care, and benefitted from it last year. While it was still expensive for me, as I had no income, it was still cheaper than the COBRA benefits I had been paying for.
    As you well know, a lot of confusion surrounds the system, and that extends to being afraid to make the initial phone call. I believe the reason for that is that many people listen to what others say without getting the facts for themselves.
    I think it would be really interesting, and beneficial to have someone who really is enrolling volunteer to do so online, so that we can all listen in to the actual process, without, of course, the sensitive information such as SS# and the name and address, and possibly employer. My personal belief is that this fear and lack of information is what keeps a lot of people from utilizing the process.
    But as far as all the rest, including current income, it might help to de-mystify the process of enrollment.
    Also, did not know until listening to this show that there was something that was PA-based.
    Thanks for all the great topics you bring to the show – however, it keeps me from starting work each day.

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-02-10 10:46

    A social workers comments...
    As a social worker working with the Mentally ill my experience has been dofferent in a couple of ways:

    • I have been able to use the Health screening questionnaire to help people move from PCO to Healthy Plus.
    • All people who got PCO have lost their MH service as no one is accepting it who took Medicaid before. They also lost eligibility for the MATP (Medical Assistance Transportation program)

  • John Stell img 2015-02-10 15:38

    So they talk about how it won't cost Pennsylvanian's b/c the Feds pick up the tab. What? That's us! It's a shell game, and they think we can't figure it out. Look, we are giving you great health care and the upgrades are practically free because 'someone else' will pay for it. Look into mirror to find the someone else!

    And the idea that it will create 30 to 40,000 new jobs in the health care field sounds great. But you have to pay those people, the money comes from insurance and the insurance comes from our pockets one way or another. Besides, if there are 40k new healthcare jobs that means there must be alot more unhealthy people, so should we be celebrating that? I understand that there may be current understaffing issues, and the baby boomers aging, but if there was more emphasis on prevention and healthy lifestyle, less prescribing a new drug every time you walk thru the door, there would not be a need for so many new healthcare workers.
    And I would be remiss without mentioning a truism - follow the money, the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. With so much money in health fields this is surely a seedy underbelly somewhere. I'm sure most folks are in it for the benefit of others. but not all.