State Senate bill aims to make treatment for chronic disease patients more affordable

On today’s episode of The Confluence:

State-proposed bill could help patients with chronic conditions gain easier access to new treatments
(0:00 – 7:26)

Pennsylvania lawmakers have proposed a new invoice which aims to facilitate the access of patients with chronic diseases to new treatments for their diseases. This legislation aims to change two practices sometimes required by private insurers: prior authorization and step therapy.

Under the proposed bill, insurers would be required to offer exemptions for both practices. It would also require insurers to establish a standardized process for doctors to approve or request exemptions and allow patients to appeal their insurance company’s decision.

“This is going to apply to all insurance, whether it’s private insurance or Medicaid, and it’s going to reduce the red tape that consumes the provider and makes it difficult to get medical care,” State says. Sen. Kristin Phillips Hill of York, the godfather of Senate Bill 225.

The State House has six days in session to pass the legislation before the end of the year.

An investigation by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette found that Art Rooney Sr. was a prominent leader in the city’s rackets
(7:33 – 16:49)

Before the Steelers turned a profit, Art Rooney Sr.’s financial fortune had been attributed to horse racing, stock investing and boxing promotion.

But a recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette investigation found that, from the mid-1920s to the late 1940s, the family patriarch was also a leading racketeer in the city.

“He ran operations and everything from slot machines to numbers. He had an illegal brewery. He had an illegal speakeasy casino…and he turned it all into an early fortune,” Sean Hamil, a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, says. “Several historians who have looked into some of these issues have said that the Steelers would not exist without his role in the rackets.”

The full Pittsburgh Post-Gazette investigation will be published next week.

Allegheny County Judge rules city officials can remove Christopher Columbus statue from Schenley Park
(4:55 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.)

An Allegheny County judge has ruled that Pittsburgh city officials can remove the statue of Christopher Columbus from Schenley Park. The decision comes after an ongoing legal battle.

In October 2020, the Pittsburgh Art Commission voted to remove the statue, which the Italian Sons and Daughters of America challenged in a lawsuit.

“They wanted an injunction because they say Columbus represents Italian achievement and that would be disrespectful to Italian Americans,” says Bill O’Driscollartistic and cultural reporter for WESA.

Common Pleas Judge John McVay Jr. recommended moving the statue to private property, but the Gainey administration has yet to comment on whether it will pursue the statue’s destruction.

La Confluence, where news gathers, is the daily news program of 90.5 WESA. Tune in Monday through Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to hear reporters and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh area. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Norman D. Briggs