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Reimagining health care in Pennsylvania: Regional Director Beth Anne Mumford talks expanding access to quality care for the commonwealth

Aug 20, 2020 by AFP

Americans are concerned about the reliability of their health care — especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re right to feel this way. This health crisis has revealed that America’s health care system often stands in the way of the doctors, nurses, and medical researchers working to help people.

Various laws and regulations on health care were responsible for the limited supply and greater costs of care. That’s why Americans for Prosperity—Pennsylvania launched its Health Care Reimagined campaign — an effort to convince lawmakers of the necessity of health care reform — early into the pandemic. The campaign is part of a national effort that includes advertising, digital outreach, lobbying, and grassroots engagement from Americans for Prosperity’s 2.2 million activists.

In the following interview, Americans for Prosperity—Pennsylvania Regional Director Beth Anne Mumford explains what this reform looks like and how the Keystone State could enact it.

What does it mean to reimagine health care in Pennsylvania? 

Mumford: Reimagining health care means expanding access to health care for all Pennsylvanians so that they can develop the type of personalized care that meets their needs, and that care is delivered in a way they want and is available at a cost they can afford.

As a mom responsible for the health care decisions in my family, I know this is more important than ever. We achieve this by moving beyond the status quo — that top down solutions to health care policy are going to create good outcomes — by removing the many government barriers we have and trusting doctors, nurses, and other providers to work with patients to make the best choices.

By reimagining health care, we can ensure that all the best ideas come to the table.

The state Senate recently passed a bill, SB 25, which is now with the House (HB 100). The bill would allow Advanced Practice Registered Nurses to be granted full practice authority. Can you talk a little about what that means and how it will help Pennsylvania expand access to quality health care across the state? 

Mumford: Anyone who interacts with health care in any way knows how valuable good nurses are to our health care system. Currently, Pennsylvania has set limitations to the care those nurses can provide.

Arbitrary regulations keep them from working to the full extent of their training and education. With SB 25, we can give those nurses the trust they deserve by removing those barriers and allowing them the opportunity to provide the scope of care they’re trained to provide.

This would mean that they can do more to serve more patients in a way that they can’t today. And by expanding what nurses can do and how they care for patients, we expand the care that is available to them. That’s good for all of us.

HB 15, which deals with telehealth, has recently been introduced in the state House. Can you talk about why lifting telehealth restrictions is so important, especially as we continue dealing with COVID-19? 

Mumford: One of the keys to addressing COVID-19 is to limit exposure. There’s no better way to do this than to be able to visit your doctor from home via the computer, so that if you are sick, you won’t spread it to anyone else, and if you are healthy with a minor health care need, you won’t expose yourself to someone who may have the virus.

We conduct all parts of our lives safely through online interactions, and there’s no reason to not provide this as an option to patients who want to use it. The exciting thing about telehealth, even beyond the immediate issues with COVID-19, is that it can also open access between patients and doctors in the long-term.

Imagine a rural resident with a unique condition who can visit with the nation’s top expert treating that condition without having to drive hours or get on a plane to go to an appointment. This may not be an option for everyone. But telehealth certainly expands what’s possible for healthcare access for patients across Pennsylvania.

What are some next steps Pennsylvania can take to expand access to quality, affordable health care? 

Mumford: COVID-19 has shown that so many of our regulations were holding us back from the care we need in a crisis. And if we have to roll back regulations to meet our needs in a health care crisis, those regulations shouldn’t exist in the first place.

Beyond that, we can all agree that the current system — where one-size-fits-all decisions are made about our health care from Washington, D.C. to Harrisburg — is not serving many of us well. We need to think about what’s possible instead of fighting over what we already have.

So, I would encourage every Pennsylvania citizen to talk to their lawmakers and ask them to reimagine health care that allows each of us access to what we need, when we need it, delivered in a way that works for us and is ultimately available at a cost we can afford.

There’s no reason to keep doing things the way we’ve been doing them. We should trust our doctors, nurses, and other providers to deliver the care we know they are committed to delivering by lowering the barriers that stand in their way.

Lawmakers have an important role to play in thinking about what’s possible for patients and they need to hear from us. Americans for Prosperity-Pennsylvania has many opportunities to engage, whether through online town halls to sending letters and making phone calls to their lawmakers both in Harrisburg and in Washington.

The more they hear from citizens, the more likely these issues will be prioritized, and we’ll get the changes we need to improve what’s available for everyone.

Learn more about Americans for Prosperity—Pennsylvania’s efforts to reimagine health care and make sure to urge your lawmakers to support SB 25 and HB 15.