If things remain as they are, it seems that the nationally-recognized healthcare data monitoring agency known as the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) will die on November 30. However, two PA senators are working to make sure that it is resurrected as soon as possible.
Ordinarily, the fall of a small state agency wouldn't attract much attention. But in this case, things are different. The council has been important, not just in Pennsylvania, but around the country for its reports on trends in medical costs, such as a recent study concluding that in-hospital death rates for heart-bypass surgery patients in Pennsylvania hit their lowest level in more than a decade during 2006. All told, the PHC4 has kept a particularly sharp eye on key cost and quality trends in the state, setting a standard for other states to follow.
The agency officially went out of business in early July, but Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell (D) temporarily extended its life. However, that extension only lasts until November 30, and the Pennsylvania Senate has gone home for the year without an agreement to extend its life further.
Fortunately, two Pennsylvania senators, Wayne Fontana (D) and Pat Vance (R), have promised to do their best to push through an agreement as quickly as possible after the Senate returns in January.
To learn more about the council:
- Read this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette piece