Many Pennsylvanians struggle to access healthcare. Long wait lists, too few providers that accept Medicaid (access card) and Medicare (red, white, and blue card), and lack of transportation to medical appointments can prevent people from receiving life saving care. These issues are especially serious for people living in rural parts of the state, people with low incomes, and people with disabilities.
PHAN is calling on PA Officials to:
1. MAKE THE PA HEALTHCARE SYSTEM EASIER TO UNDERSTAND AND USE
It’s hard to access information about the healthcare system in PA, especially when there’s a problem. Healthcare providers don’t always provide information and referrals to community resources. PA officials can help improve usability by:
- Putting information about the PA healthcare system in simple, easy-to-use, publicly accessible formats.
- Ensuring rural PA counties have adequate broadband access.
- Raising awareness of available resources.
2. ENSURE RURAL PA HAS ENOUGH AVAILABLE DOCTORS, DENTISTS, BEHAVIORAL HEALTH, AND OTHER HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS
Many people, particularly those with Medical Assistance, have trouble finding dentists, OB/GYNs, even primary care doctors–as well as behavioral and mental health services including psychiatrists and ABA therapy. PA officials can improve access to care by:
- Ensuring health plans follow existing regulations regarding the number and location of providers in their network.
- Strengthening these regulations to provide adequate care to all parts of the state.
3. ENSURE DOCTORS, DENTISTS, AND OTHER HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS HAVE THE TIME AND COMPETENCY TRAINING THEY NEED TO MEET THEIR PATIENTS’ NEEDS
Healthcare providers are often under pressure to treat high volumes of patients, reducing the amount of time and attention they are able to give to each patient. Many have not received adequate cultural competency or disability competency training and may have internalized preconceptions and biases that result in poor treatment. PA Officials can help improve patient/provider relationships by:
- Requiring cultural competency and disability competency training in med schools and as ongoing education for healthcare providers.
- Promoting policies that allow doctors, dentists, and other healthcare providers to spend more time with their patients.
- Ensuring the availability of assistive communication devices, video remote interpretation, the availability of accessible formats as well as translation for people with limited english proficiency in hospitals and other provider locations.
4. ENSURE ACCESS TO MEDICAL TRANSPORTATION BENEFITS
The Medical Assistance Transportation Program (MATP) is a lifeline for seniors, people with disabilities, children, and people in rural areas. However, many are unaware of the program or run into problems when applying for or using the service. PA officials can improve the MATP program by:
- Increasing accountability from Medicaid transportation providers.
- Raising awareness and assisting people with enrollment so that more people use the program.
- Provide more information to communities and listen to feedback.
This petition is part of the Rural Healthcare Access Project, an initiative funded by the PA Developmental Disabilities Council to improve healthcare access for people with disabilities in rural PA.
This project is supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council; in part by grant number 1901PASCDD-02, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects with government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official ACL policy.