Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario was on hand at the Family Services of Altoona on November 30 to officially announce the participation of Geisinger Health Plan in the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
“Pennsylvania is unique among states in its reimbursing rates for health care,” said Ario. “We are used to the bidding process. It’s not foreign to us. Which is why the relationship with GHP is going to be an excellent example of a public-private partnership.”
According to Ario, the CHIP model is precisely what is being suggested in Congress as a model for national health insurance.
“The competitive pressures of the market will be important. CHIP is a model that will help people employed by the 50 percent of small companies that do not provide health care coverage.”
Ario said that CHIP fills an important gap in the insurance coverage for Pennsylvania children. “195,000 children are covered by CHIP’ he said. “Geisinger is the 10th participant in the program, one that has been extremely successful.”
“We believe the foundation to a successful life starts with good health care,” said Duane Davis, M.D., chief medical officer for Geisinger Health Plan.
GHP currently delivers health services in 40 Pennsylvania counties. Now, children applying for or enrolled in CHIP can receive coverage for care through GHP.
Mahlon Fiscel, executive director of Family Services, Inc. of Altoona was honored that Geisinger choose his facility to make this major announcement. Fiscel accepted a gift of food for his group’s food bank, presented by Geisinger.
“This location was selected because Family Services is a client and they fill an important need for families, especially children,” said Davis. “Like Family Services, we are also filling an important need in the community. That’s why we are here to announce our participation in CVHIP.”
“This announcement is very important to us,” said Kelly Kane, M.D., of Blair Medical Associates. “We are a Geisinger Customer and are very pleased with the service we are provided. I am here as a representative for the doctors in this community. This is going to help deliver healthcare to children that is affordable and available. There will be better opportunities to have preventative visits, to manage wellness, not just see kids when they’re sick. This is an excellent thing.”
Davis noted that Geisinger uses best practices to keep costs under control.
“We go to work every day to find ways to improve on what we do, to offer better service,” said Davis. We have a very serious commitment to pediatric medicine. We work closely with our provider network. It takes innovation and information. Last year, for example, “We made 40,000 phone calls to remind parents about the health needs f their children.”
In Pennsylvania, the uninsured rate hovers at around 10 percent, though only 5 percent in pediatric coverage. “It’s lower than many states but is still higher than we should tolerate,” said Davis.