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Expansion of HealthChoices Threatened
June 30, 2006

All PCPA members are asked to call their state Senator’s office as soon as possible and urge them to vote NO on House Bill 2699. This bill is “An Act authorizing and directing the Department of Public Welfare to establish and maintain a managed health care program for medical assistance recipients; requiring actuarially sound rates for certain managed care organizations; providing for the right of appeal and approval by the General Assembly of changes to the Commonwealth medical assistance plan and associated waivers; and repealing inconsistent portions of other acts.” A copy of the bill is attached.

While this description might not sound harmful, it threatens the expansion of HealthChoices. The bill has advantages for some managed care organizations but not for counties, providers, or consumers/clients.

House Bill 2699 was voted out of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee yesterday despite strong efforts to stop it. It is possible that a vote will happen on the floor, today. HB 2699 was introduced on June 6, just 24 days ago.

The major problems with House Bill 2699 are:

1. It establishes requirements that would delay the statewide expansion of Behavioral HealthChoices in the North Central Zone and includes changes that would require the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) to begin the procurement over again.

2. It requires that DPW choose two managed care organizations in each Zone. It also confirms that DPW can choose not to offer HealthChoices in seventh and eighth class counties. Since health maintenance organizations would not be attracted to smaller counties it is likely that those counties would not be served.

Please contact your senators as soon as possible, preferably Friday, June 30, or Saturday, July 1, and ask them to defeat the bill. If defeating the bill is not possible, it should be amended to carve out behavioral health.

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