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

Controlling healthcare costs/ Natural gas impact fees

Written by Rich Copeland - Producer, Smart Talk | Dec 13, 2016 3:00 AM


The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) was formed in 1986 under the Dick Thornburgh administration.  The Council is an independent state agency tasked with analyzing health care costs and quality as well as making recommendations regarding care for the uninsured.

The agency stood out as the first in the nation to issue hospital report cards, the first to release studies on hospital infection rates and it broke ground with its study on hospital re-admission rates.  The PHC4 has published comprehensive reports on issues such as drug-related hospitalizations, bariatric surgery, depression and firearm related injuries.

The agency is celebrating its 30th anniversary and Smart Talk's Scott LaMar will talk about the agency's accomplishments with Executive Director Joe Martin and Dr. David Nash, the Chairman of PHC4's Technical Advisory Group.


Joe Martin - Executive Director, PHC4 / Dr. David Nash - Chairman, PHC4

Also, while there's been a lot of focus on the conflicts of interests in the incoming Trump administration, StateImpact Pennsylvania recently reported on the issue surfacing in Governor Tom Wolf's office. One of his top aides is married to a natural gas lobbyist and routinely works on policy matters related to her husband's industry clients.

Plus, over the past four years, the state's natural gas impact fee has brought in more than a billion dollars.  These fees are supposed to be used by local governments to offset the negative effects gas drilling can have on communities, however some of the money has been spent on questionable services--including a community party, featuring an appearance by an American Idol contestant, and general operating expenses of government agencies.

State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale (D) says a quarter of the impact fees he reviewed were misspent, and he's calling for better oversight of the use of these fees.

marie cusick 11-16.png

Marrie Cusick - Reporter, StateImpact Pennsylvania

StateImpact Pennsylvania reporter Marie Cusick will join Smart Talk to discuss the potential conflict of interest and parse out the uses of impact fees and how the funds may be better spent in the future.


on PA Health Care:

- When I worked in health insurance, the company marketing department knew that the Pittsburgh/wpa area were heavy insurance utilizers, meaning that the people in that area went to the doctor/hospital and used their benefits significantly more than other areas.

Also, I had heard statistics that showed the more affulent population uses their insurance more than the less financially successful population, eventhough it is a little counter intuitive.

This information is about 10 years old, however tthese factors were what caused the marketing department to adjust the prices of the health plans offered in that area; that was partially why they couldn't develop the same plans at the same price point for the entire state.       - anon

- I am one of the 'young' working population that needed a hip replacement
either we are getting wimpier or smarter
My hip was bone on bone, the other one is going, spinal stenosis, and arthritis
I've tried a year and a half of PT on and off and have been working with Pain Management in Hershey
These doctors are acting like patients are not in pain, do not have real issues
Why should I be in pain for years when it can be fixed              - Anon



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