Last Tuesday, Senator Fontana joined Democrat and Republican colleagues from both the House and Senate in calling upon UPMC and Highmark to end their stalemate and take steps to insure continued, affordable access to health care in Western PA.
This past week I participated in a news conference in Harrisburg to discuss legislation that would help preserve access to health care for millions of people in Western Pennsylvania. This is a direct result of the stalemate that continues between the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and Highmark. Legislators on both sides of the aisle are urging UPMC and Highmark to break the stalemate and do the right thing for those who rely on the companies for their health care needs. The priority should be on what’s best for the public.
It’s easy to get caught up in the business aspect of the stalemate, but I have not lost sight of the fact that patients are the priority here and it’s not fair that they have to be stuck in the middle. Consumers should have peace of mind of knowing that they will continue to have the same access to the doctors and medical facilities that they have used for years. Out of network costs would be unaffordable to many if a new contract isn’t agreed to. The combined impact of these two companies is substantial- there are more than 20 hospitals and 400 doctors’ offices and outpatient sites under UPMC, and Highmark is one of the largest health insurers in the United States. Together, they affect three million people in Western Pennsylvania.
During last week’s press conference, we discussed legislation that has already been introduced to address the issue. House Bill 32 would strengthen the authority of Pennsylvania’s Insurance Commissioner to get involved in contract disputes between a hospital and insurer. Specifically, the Commissioner would have the power to determine whether termination of a contract is in the best interest of the public, and if it is not, to extend the contract for another term. Another bill, House Bill 1910, would require binding arbitration between UPMC specialty hospitals and Highmark if they can’t reach a contract agreement on their own. The bill would ensure that special care facilities are not shut off to patients due to the dispute. Both bills remain in the House Insurance Committee.
Each day the stalemate drags on, it becomes more and more clear that the legislature needs to step in and examine every option that is at its disposal. I have spoken many times over the last several months about the importance of preserving access to stable, affordable health care. Both sides should be listening more closely to those who worry about losing their doctors.
As someone who represents many of those who are affected by the stalemate, I am committed to addressing these issues and using any viable option that leads to a positive outcome for those who lives are dependent on their health care remaining accessible to them. All parties involved must continue to ask themselves what is best for the consumers of Western PA. In the meantime, please feel free to communicate to me any additional concerns you might have about the dispute.
GirlGov Visits Harrisburg
Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure of meeting two young ladies, Mackenzie and Jessie, from the region who were participating in the GirlGov program. They spent their morning shadowing me and learning a little more about what I, and my staff, do in Harrisburg, were introduced on the Senate floor and then participated in a panel discussion in the afternoon before heading home. Mackenzie is in 9th grade at Chartiers Valley High School and Jessie is a junior at Mt. Lebanon High School.
GirlGov is a program of the Women and Girls Foundation, created by teen women who participated in WGF’s Regional Change Agents program in 2010. It is a one-day legislative shadowing program for girls in 8th to 12th grade who live in Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, & Washington Counties.
Business Development in Mount Washington
The opening of Grandview Bakery and Sweet Shop in Mount Washington is another example of how a community can fill a void by getting behind a project. The owner of the bakery, who lives in Mount Washington, stepped up when the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation (MWCDC) indicated there was demand for a bakery. Now, residents and visitors alike can enjoy the amenities this small business has to offer - including breads, cakes, candy and chocolate.
Financial Recovery and Literacy Event
The Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation has teamed up with Huntington Bank to offer a free financial recovery and literacy workshop. It will be held tomorrow (October 26th) from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Landmarks Housing Resource Center (744 Rebecca Ave., Wilkinsburg). The workshop will offer information on money-saving, credit repairing and other financial management tips. Specifically, the session will address topics such as assessing your current financial situation, identifying ways of increasing your income, recognizing credit repair scams, building a savings plan, and how to develop a financial recovery plan. The workshop is free and open to the public, but reservations are appreciated. Contact Mary Lu Denny at 412-471-5808 ext. 527 or email email@example.com.
Checks for Vets Event
Veterans can get information regarding pension benefits by attending a free event at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall on November 2nd. Author and veteran advocate Joseph Scott McCarthy will explain how to get the highest amount of pension benefits and how to save thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs for veterans and their surviving spouses through the VA pension process. The event is free and open to the public. It will be held between the hours of 6 – 7 p.m. in the Reception Hall. For more information, contact Diane Klinefelter at 412-276-3456 ext. 5 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Halloween Activities for Kids
The Parents of Third Street Park in McKees Rocks is hosting a Halloween party this Saturday, October 29th from noon – 4 p.m. at the park. Children of all ages are encouraged to come dressed in their Halloween costume and participate in the costume contest. Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. The event is free for children up to age 2 and is $2 for children ages 3-14. The cost includes food, snacks, candy and goodie bags. There will also be prizes, activities and games for children to enjoy. All proceeds will benefit future projects at the park. For more information contact Miss Kardell at 412-771-0172, or Mrs. Lynn Salters at 412-771-2312.
And don’t forget - this is the last weekend for the Haunted House presented by Enjoy Bellevue (October 28-30). The house is located at 366 Lincoln Avenue. Proceeds from this event will also benefit the community. Sunday, October 30th is kid’s day at the house. All kids, age 10 and under, will enjoy a “fear free” haunted house with a storytelling guide leading the way. There will also be coloring, crafts, and face painting.
Halloween Safety & City Trick-or-Treat Times
Kids love getting candy and dressing up for Halloween, but just remember to stay safe while you’re out and about. The City of Pittsburgh has put together a Halloween safety and activity book for children and families, along with an interactive map of registered community events. It’s all available on the City’s Public Safety page. If you scroll down to the bottom of the website you can view the interactive map. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Map out a safe trick-or-treating route ahead of time.
- Remind kids not to take shortcuts through backyards or alleys, or enter a strange house or car.
- Remove hazards from your own yard that might present a danger to visiting ghouls and goblins. Remember to turn on an exterior light.
- Kids should know not to eat their candy until they get home. Parents should inspect all candy in an area with plenty of light.
For more tips, check out the safety and activity book. It also includes a quiz, mazes and coloring pages. For trick-or-treat times in the Pittsburgh area click here. Have a safe and happy Halloween!
Did You Know…
Did you know that Halloween candy sales average around $2 billion per year in the United States? Some of the most popular items include Snickers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Candy Corn.
Medicare Annual Enrollment Now Open
Medicare annual enrollment is now open and will close on December 7th. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid moved up the enrollment dates to more easily process plan choices. Coverage will begin without interruption on January 1, 2012. There are a variety of choices available to Medicare enrollees (to compare plans, use the plan finder on the Medicare website).
To assist you in your search, free health insurance counseling is available to Pennsylvanians age 60 and older through the APPRISE program. Residents in Allegheny County should call the APPRISE coordinator at 412-661-1438 to get more information. Counseling services are free and all information is kept confidential. APPRISE counselors are specially trained to answer consumer questions and provide clear information in choosing the right Medicare health and/or prescription plan.
High School Sports Rundown
The Post-Gazette has again featured a district player this week with a feature story on Josh Mackin and his stellar season for the Brentwood Boys Soccer Team. They also have a great article on Bishop Canevin and how its football team has managed to stay unbeaten through seven games.
- Congratulations to the Brentwood Boys Soccer Team for qualifying for the WPIAL Class A Soccer Playoffs for the first time in school history. Brentwood finished the season in 2nd place in Section 1-A with a record of 10-2 in conference play and an overall record of 12-2.
- Seton La-Salle’s Boys Soccer Team won Section 3-A and qualified for the WPIAL Class A Soccer Playoffs. The Rebels finished the regular season with a record of 15-2-1.
- Baldwin has qualified for the WPIAL Class AAA Soccer Playoffs, finishing in 3rd place in Section 4-AAA with a record of 10-6-2.
- Montour finished the regular season with a mark of 12-4-1 and finished in 3rd place in Section 5-AA to earn a spot in the WPIAL Class AA Soccer Playoffs.
- Langley’s Girls Soccer Team finished 2nd in the City League with an overall record of 10-4 to earn a spot in the City League Girls Soccer Semifinals.
- Also earning a spot in the City League Girls Soccer Semifinals was Brashear. Brashear finished the season with an overall mark of 6-6 and finished 4th in the City League.
- Bishop Canevin’s Girls Soccer Team finished the regular season with a record of 9-7 and qualified for the WPIAL Class A Soccer Playoffs.
- Seton La-Salle’s Girls Soccer Team qualified for the WPIAL Class A Soccer Playoffs with a mark of 8-8-1.
Best of luck to all of the boys and girls soccer teams in the playoffs!
Week 8 High School Football Highlights
- Sto-Rox improved to 8-0 on the season with a 38-12 win over Shenango. Josh Beverly ran for three touchdowns. Quarterback Lenny Williams ran for a score and threw for one.
- Bishop Canevin ran their record to 8-0 with a 54-8 win over Riverview. Casey McCaffrey ran for three touchdowns and Kevin Mechas passed for two scores. Colin Jones returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown and Jordan Maloney returned an interception 14 yards for another score.
- Seton La-Salle defeated South Fayette 33-10 to improve to 8-0. Kevin Hart rushed for 205 yards and three touchdowns. Luke Brumbaugh threw a touchdown pass to Dylan Boccella.
- Dominick Baria rushed for two touchdowns and Dorian Brown ran for 117 yards and a touchdown in Baldwin’s 29-12 win over Canon-McMillan.
- Dillon Buechel threw four touchdown passes, including two 65-yard scores to Darren Massey, in Montour’s 35-17 win over West Allegheny. Julian Durden rushed for 109 yards in the win and Buechel threw for 297 yards, the second highest total in western Pennsylvania in Week 8.
- Keystone Oaks defeated Burgettstown 35-19 behind Dale Klobichur’s 152 rushing yards. Klobichur also scored two touchdowns and Matt Buckley threw three touchdown passes in the win.
- Shawn Owens threw two touchdown passes to B.J. Lipke in Cornell’s 40-0 win over Union. Derrick Jackson rushed for two scores and Cory Mackey returned a blocked punt for a touchdown.
- Chris Shortley threw three touchdown passes in Brentwood’s 50-7 win over Serra Catholic. Benny Walter and Justin Bauer each rushed for a touchdown. Spencer Hubsch opened the scoring returning a punt 59 yards for a touchdown.
- Nick Lang rushed for two touchdowns and caught a 72-yard touchdown pass in Carlynton’s 46-0 win over Bentworth. Tyler Thorne returned a fumble 37 yards for a touchdown and Cody Smith ran for two scores. Trevor George threw for a touchdown and rushed for a score.
- Jon Girvin threw for 325 yards and four touchdowns in Northgate’s 27-26 loss to North Catholic. Girvin’s 325 yards passing was the highest total in western Pennsylvania for Week 8.
(From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
For anyone interested in supporting their local teams in person, here is a schedule for Week 9:
Friday, October 28
- Allderdice @ Langley, 7pm
- Bethel Park @ Baldwin, 7:30pm
- Chartiers Valley @ South Park, 7:30pm
- Moon @ Montour, 7:10pm
- Keystone Oaks @ Seton La-Salle, 7pm
- Cornell @ Sto-Rox, 7pm
- Carlynton @ Brentwood, 7:30pm
- Avonworth @ Northgate, 7:30pm
- North Catholic @ Bishop Canevin, 7:30pm
- Brashear @ Linsly School (WV), 7:30pm
The Borough of Ingram is named after Thomas Ingram, an Irish immigrant and one of the first settlers of the area. He owned several hundred acres of land and decided to open it for sale in the 1880’s. The area’s population began to grow and in 1902 the Borough of Ingram was officially established after local citizens petitioned the courts.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana