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Pittsburgh City Council Recognizes Health Advocates For Protecting 182,000 Seniors’ Care and Declares it Health Access for All Day

December 15, 2015

Today, Pittsburgh City Council issued an official proclamation to the Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN) and the over 5,000 seniors who took action to protect seniors’ care despite UPMC’s efforts to deny in-network access to 182,000 area seniors because of their health insurance carrier.  The proclamation – sponsored by Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak – declares today “Health Access for All Day” and recognizes this group’s work to preserve access to care for 182,000 Western Pennsylvania seniors.

“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision earlier this month allows 182,0000 Freedom Blue and Security Blue subscribers the freedom to choose their doctors and hospitals, including UPMC doctors and hospitals. Today we are proud to celebrate the hard work of seniors who stood up and held giant healthcare institutions accountable to the communities they serve. Seniors are relieved the Supreme Court has weighed in to protect their access to their doctors and hospitals this year, but we need a more permanent solution,” said Antoinette Kraus, Director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network.

Area seniors attended the Pittsburgh City Council meeting today to receive the proclamation. Georgeanne Kohler, AGE, accepted the award and said before council,  “No senior citizen – no patient – should be forced to worry about those ‘what if’s’ now, in 2019, or any other year. So thank you all so much for this honor. Hopefully by recognizing the difference made by those who spoke out, you can help others to ask themselves ‘What if we all said enough is enough and decided that when it comes to our healthcare, Pittsburghers deserve to be treated as patients – not bargaining chips.’”

Earlier this year, PHAN reached out to area seniors and received more than 5,000 messages from seniors on the impact of executives’ efforts to cut off in-network access to people with Highmark Medicare advantage plans. The group also met with state and local elected leaders, including Mayor Peduto’s office and members of Pittsburgh City Council about their concerns.