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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

What's Senate healthcare plan mean for PA?/Employer-based benefit trends

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jun 25, 2017 7:54 PM
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What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, June 26, 2017:

The health insurance plan put out by Senate Republicans last week is called the Better Care Reconciliation Act.  Most Republicans that we've heard from over the past four days believe it will be better for the nation than the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.  Republicans have been promising to repeal Obamacare since it was enacted in 2010.  They were critical of the mandate that everyone must have insurance, the rising premiums and the limited choices for health insurance as insurers pulled out of the marketplace.

However, the new plan asks low and middle-income Americans to pay significantly more for coverage and many argue the coverage won't be as good.  It also would phase out the federal expansion of the Medicaid program that was designed to provide insurance to those with low incomes.

States that expanded Medicaid, like Pennsylvania, are not receiving the Senate plan well.

WITF's Transforming Health reporter Ben Allen appears on Monday's Smart Talk to dissect the new plan and what it means for Pennsylvanians.

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Ben Allen - Reporter, Transforming Health

Meanwhile, a recent survey of Central Pennsylvania businesses and industries finds that employers are shifting greater health insurance responsibility to employees and favor consumer-directed healthcare plans.

Conrad Siegel Actuaries' in Harrisburg's annual Medical and Prescription Drug Survey reports the latest trends in employee healthcare and the news is not promising for employees.

Jon Sapochak, a consulting actuary with Conrad Siegel joins us on Monday's Smart Talk with more of the survey's findings. 

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Jon Sapochak - Consulting Actuary, Conrad Siegel

emails

- I was wondering if there was anything in the bill regarding businesses providing their employees with insurance plans?              - Nigel


- Very few people are discussing the impact of repeal of the ACA on Medicare's financial stability. The House's AHCA clearly weakened the financial stability of Medicare by repealing certain taxes. What does the senate bill do? See http://www.kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/what-are-the-implications-for-medicare-of-the-american-health-care-act/                                                                              - Harris

- The health care debate over the past number of years has totally missed the point of health care...drastically increased costs and the mandates of "Obamacare" has pushed prices higher. I had my own individual policy increase each of the last 4-5 years 15-40% with deductibles increasing to over $12,600 for my family. Any comments on the mandated services under health insurance and what can be done to temper the 15-40% increases? I know projections for 2018 show 6-8% but nothing mentioned about deductibles!           - Mike, Lebanon

If you are a male between 18 and 40, you don't get health insurance, unless it is almost free, because other than accidents, you don't have serious health problems. Oh, wait, The only two times I was admitted to the hospital Were at 18 + 24 ( I am 67 now)  due to medical situations, tests than appendicitis. That is why requiring everyone to have health insurance makes sense. I might have skipped the tests, but appendicitis without health insurance would have been a disaster financially     - Rich

- One of the most sinister parts of this Senate bill is that most of the things that will cut coverage and raise premiums do not going effect until after 2020 or even 2025.  If these provisions are so necessary, why not implement them more quickly?

This is clearly designed to help re-elect Trump and other Republican incumbents by delaying the pain this bill will cause.                                        - Gary

In describing the shift to block grants for federal support to Medicaid, Ben said that this will replace the current system where the federal government writes a "blank check" to the states.  This gives the impression that everyone on Medicaid gets whatever they want, and the federal government picks up the tab.  Be assured, the STATE scrutinizes all Medicaid claims.  The state is a careful watchdog of funds.  Please don't let listeners get the impression otherwise.  I have a son with autism, and while we are extremely grateful for the help we get, I assure you there are plenty of supports we need that we DO NOT get because of limited funds.           - Mary

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