Allentown, PA – Governor Tom Wolf was joined by state Representatives Mike Schlossberg and Peter Schweyer, as well as St. Luke's University Health Network leaders and physicians today to celebrate the positive economic and health care impact of expanding Medicaid in Pennsylvania. Shortly after taking office, Governor Wolf expanded Medicaid in February of 2015. More than 700,000 people have gained access to a doctor after enrolling in the health insurance program.
“The people of Pennsylvania deserve quality, affordable, and readily accessible health care that meets the needs of their families and their communities,” said Governor Wolf at St. Luke’s Hospital in Allentown. “Expanding Medicaid is a win-win for families and our economy. The door to the doctor’s office is now open to more than 700,000 of our neighbors and thousands of healthcare jobs have been created in the Lehigh Valley and across the commonwealth.”
While there are significant health benefits from leveraging federal funds to expand Medicaid, there is also a big economic boost as the health care industry has created more than 15,000 jobs in Pennsylvania to care for the newly insured in their communities.
With expanded Medicaid, the St. Luke’s University Health Network has created or saved more than 4,000 jobs, including 1,100 jobs from acquiring the Sacred Heart Healthcare System, the largest employer in downtown Allentown, and another 1,000 jobs after acquiring the Blue Mountain Health System, the largest employer in Palmerton and Lehighton.
In Lehigh County, more than 21,100 people have enrolled in expanded Medicaid and 175,000 individuals now have access to substance-abuse treatment in Pennsylvania. The commonwealth’s uninsured rate has dropped from 10.2 percent in 2010 to under 6 percent, an all-time low.
“Medicaid Expansion has made it possible for more people to seek treatment they need, creating jobs in the health care industry and allowing workers in other industries to return to work faster,” said Rep. Mike Schlossberg. “Without Governor Wolf’s actions to expand access for thousands of Pennsylvanians, our economy would have continued to struggle with the effects of inadequate access for thousands of workers across the state."
Rep. Peter Schweyer added, “As a former employee at Sacred Heart Hospital, I witnessed firsthand the positive effects of Governor Wolf’s health care initiatives, most notably the expansion of Medicaid. This single decision saved hundreds of jobs in downtown Allentown by increasing the number of patients actually seeing the doctor and by reducing uncompensated care which in turn strengthened the bottom line of our hospitals and clinics. This, along with other economic development initiatives have helped create thousands more jobs in my hometown.”
Following the press conference Governor Wolf and local officials toured the emergency room at the hospital.MEDIA CONTACT: J.J. Abbott, 717-783-1116
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About St. Luke’sFounded in 1872, St. Luke’s University Health Network is a fully integrated, regional, non-profit network of 14,000 employees providing services at 10 hospitals and over 315 outpatient sites. With annual net revenue of $1.9 billion, the network’s service area includes 10 counties: Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon, Schuylkill, Bucks, Montgomery, Berks and Monroe counties in Pennsylvania and Warren and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey. Dedicated to advancing medical education, St. Luke’s is the preeminent teaching hospital in central-eastern Pennsylvania. In partnership with Temple University, St. Luke’s created the region’s first and only regional medical school campus. It also operates the nation’s longest continuously operating School of Nursing, established in 1884, and 27 fully accredited graduate medical educational programs with 211 residents. St. Luke’s is the only health care network in central-eastern Pennsylvania to earn Medicare’s five-star rating (the highest) for quality, efficiency and patient satisfaction. Repeatedly, including 2018, St. Luke’s has earned the 100 Top Major Teaching Hospital and 50 Top Cardiovascular Program designations from IBM Watson Health (formerly Truven Health Analytics). St. Luke’s, utilizing the EPIC electronic medical record (EMR) system, is a multi-year recipient of the Most Wired award recognizing the breadth of St. Luke’s information technology applications such as telehealth, online scheduling and online pricing information. St. Luke’s is also recognized as one of the state’s lowest cost providers.