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Meetings Set in Southeast PA to Help State Retirees Choose Best Plan to Continue Health Care Benefits
Date:3/6/2008

Some Southeast Hospitals Refusing Plan Despite No Change in Payments

HARRISBURG, Pa., March 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Office of Administration today said it will conduct fifteen additional informational sessions at five locations to help more than 5,000 retired state employees in southeast Pennsylvania select the best Medicare plan and continue health care coverage.

Meetings begin March 10 in Philadelphia and continue through March 14 in King of Prussia, Exton, Blue Bell and Langhorne.

The meetings are necessary because some hospital systems in the region -- including Crozer Keystone Health System, Jefferson Health System and the University of Pennsylvania Health System -- are refusing to provide non-emergency medical care to retirees who wish to enroll in the Medicare fee-for-service plan, branded as Advantra Freedom. The plan provides the same level of benefits as the current health plan and retirees are not required to receive authorization before undergoing tests or procedures.

Under the Advantra Freedom plan, hospitals would be reimbursed at the same payment level that they have been accepting for state retirees. However, the hospitals' decision may make the other two options -- a health maintenance organization, or HMO, and a preferred provider organization, or PPO, plan that could provides higher hospital reimbursement rates -- more attractive or better suited to retirees.

Before retirees in southeast Pennsylvania choose the Advantra Freedom plan, they should check if their physicians or hospitals will accept it.

Hospitals across the rest of the state have already agreed to accept the Advantra Freedom plan. Pennsylvania taxpayers are currently spending approximately $4 billion annually to hospitals to support various health care programs.

Throughout 2008, retirees may switch from one plan to another to ensure they subscribe to a plan that best suits their needs. If the hospitals that are refusing care would reverse their position, retirees would be able to select Advantra Freedom.

The Office of Administration announced in September that health care benefits for state retirees will change May 1 to address health care costs that have skyrocketed 63 percent -- from $336 million to $550 million -- in the past four years. The change does not alter any benefits retirees now receive. Instead, it combines Medicare Parts A and B, Medicare supplemental and major medical coverage.

Under the new health care plan, the commonwealth will continue to provide comprehensive health and prescription benefits for retirees by improving efficiency while reducing paperwork and saving an estimated $94 million in the first year.

The deadline was extended to March 21 to allow retirees more time to make informed decisions in selecting an HMO, PPO or the Advantra Freedom fee-for-service plan that replaces the current state-administered Medicare fee-for-service plan.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A copy of the mailing to state retirees in southeast Pennsylvania (including the list of informational meetings) is available at http://www.state.pa.us/retireehealth. Reporters can request the list of southeast region hospitals accepting and not accepting the Advantra Freedom plan by calling 717-772-4237.

CONTACT: Mia DeVane

(717) 772-4237


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SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of Administration
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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