Governor Tom Corbett visits LVHN facility
Following up on his introduction Sept. 16, of his Healthy Pennsylvania health care reform and Medicaid expansion program, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett was at a Lehigh Valley Health Network facility Sept. 17 where he viewed a demonstration of the network's telemedicine technology.
Seated before a large screen which displayed a Hazleton General Hospital treatment area, Corbett watched as Dr. Daniel Lorenzo, medical director of the LVHN regional burn center, conferred with Hazelton General Hospital burn specialists with Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Michael Wolf acting as the simulated burn victim.
The demonstration served to illustrate how burn center member hospitals throughout the state can use videoconferencing facilities for patient consultations to help determine whether treatment at a local hospital will suffice, or whether specialized care at a regional burn center is needed.
The telemedicine technology is also used for medical consultations other than burn trauma.
Corbett sat with a Hazleton Emergency Room nurse at the LVHN telemedicine simulation center at 1247 Cedar Crest Professional Park as she related how she herself became a patient when she suffered a severe stroke at her Hazelton home last October.
After initial treatment at Hazelton General Hospital, a telemedicine consultation with Lehigh Valley Hospital neurologist Christian Schumacher determined Singley should be immediately transferred to LVHN. She was receiving specialized stroke care at the LVHN Cedar Crest campus within two hours of her arrival at the Hazelton hospital.
Corbett praised the Lehigh Valley Health Network and other health care providers throughout the Commonwealth who have used their own funds to establish the telemedicine network.
Corbett said the Healthy Pennsylvania health care initiative he introduced last week includes provisions to expand the technology to medically under-served rural areas of the Commonwealth, to increase and enhance health care delivery through technologies such as telemedicine specialty care.
Corbett said the health care reform is aimed at "bringing quality healthcare to Pennsylvanians while lowering costs."
LVHN's telemedicine program offers care for stroke, burn, infectious disease, high-risk pregnancies and many other conditions.
Telemedicine uses interactive technology which enables physicians and nurses to examine, diagnose and treat patients who are in remote or underserved areas of the state where they do not have access to certain kinds of healthcare expertise.
Corbett said the Healthy Pennsylvania initiative is unlike any other being considered as part of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obama care.
While the federal law gives states the option of expanding Medicaid coverage to the working poor, Corbett's plan would require some Medicaid recipients to show proof of employment, or proof they are seeking employment, and would require a monthly $25 to $35 co-pay provision. No other state has made those requests as conditions for signing on to the Medicaid expansion option.
Under current law, Medicaid provides health insurance to children, the elderly and adults with disabilities or addictions.
The ideas outlined in the Healthy Pennsylvania initiative are not new. Corbett has spoken of them for months. But not until last week did he articulate his plan, which borrows from expansion ideas Arkansas and Iowa proposed that would allow newly eligible Medicaid recipients to buy private insurance.
Before he allows an additional 500,000 uninsured residents to be added to Medicare rolls, Corbett said he wants the federal government to buy into his "common sense" plan.
Without federal approval of those up-front concepts, Corbett said, Pennsylvania won't consider expanding Medicaid coverage. If the federal government agrees to his plan, he said, he would use federal money to allow residents to buy private insurance instead of allowing them to enroll into a straight Medicaid program as envisioned by the White House concept.