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[IP] PA. Governor passes Diabetes Coverage Bill

For those of you who happened to read the other articles I'd linked 2 wks =
(when I sent the one about Miss America) & were appalled that Pennsylvania
still WASN'T covering supplies, training, etc....well....read

Bill to help diabetics is signed 

The legislation requires insurance firms to pay for medical supplies and


HARRISBURG -- Gov. Ridge signed a bill yesterday requiring insurance compa=
to pay for medical supplies and equipment for diabetics, an issue that hel=
prompt the state's first physician general to resign nine months ago.
"This new law will empower Pennsylvanians with diabetes to seek and receiv=
the treatment they need to improve the quality of their lives," said Ridge=
who signed the legislation during the annual meeting of the Pennsylvania
Medical Society's policy-making body.

Dr. Wanda Filer, the state's first physician general, resigned in February=
cited Ridge's opposition to the bill as an example of what she called the
administration's tendency to place politics before health. 

Ridge spokesman Tim Reeves would not respond to Filer's comments, but said=
governors' support for the measure has been consistent.

"We are always concerned when we mandate insurance benefits," he said. "Th=
one is a good one."

The law takes effect early next year and requires insurers to pay for the =
of blood glucose monitors, test strips, syringes, insulin and other diabet=
supplies. It also provides coverage for self-help training that diabetics =
to manage their disease and avoid serious health complications such as

The American Diabetes Association estimates that the law could save as muc=
h as
$1 billion from the $6.7 billion in direct and indirect costs associated w=
diabetes in Pennsylvania each year.

"It's taken a year longer than it should have, but I'm glad that Pennsylva=
has finally joined the list of some 30 other states that have enacted
legislation requiring insurance companies to provide the comprehensive
coverage diabetics need to control their disease," said state Sen. Leonard=
Bodack (D., Allegheny), a lead advocate of the measure in the Senate.

Insurance coverage for diabetics was one of several issues Filer said she =
wanted Ridge to support because it affects 1.1 million Pennsyl vanians, so=
of whom often lack money for adequate supplies such as glucose strips, whi=
decrease the risk of serious complications from diabetes.

Many diabetics cut the strips in half or reduce the number of times they c=
their blood sugar levels, she said.

However, Filer said she was told the administration would not support the =
because it did not believe in mandates, and she said she was also told to =
make public statements about the measure.

In another instance, lawmakers asked Filer to comment on severe allergies
linked to latex gloves, which she did by sending a national study on the i=
to health-care providers statewide. Her action prompted 150 phone calls fo=
more information and a reprimand for not clearing it with the governor's

"It's critical for physicians, let alone in a role of physician general, t=
say what needs to be said and that sometimes creates tremendous tension in
this venue," Filer said at the time of her departure.

It was at the urging of the Pennsylvania Medical Society that the post of
physician general was created in 1996 to advise the governor and health
secretary on public health and policy issues.

Duties of the office include advocating disease and injury prevention,
reviewing professional standards and practices, and encouraging cooperatio=
between public and private health providers.

Ridge has yet to fill the $120,000-a-year post.

"I think we're on a track for the governor to make his decision [ on a
replacement ] late this year or early next year," Reeves said. "There is
significant interest and a wide range of interesting candidates."


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