Also Will Be Recognized with Achievement Award by Pastors’ Wives
(Pittsburgh) October 28, 2019 Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner, who launched an awareness and advocacy campaign with patients at risk of losing access to local doctors and hospitals, will be awarded today in Harrisburg by the statewide advocacy group Pennsylvania Health Access Network.
Wagner will be recognized as Policy Maker of the Year among a group of 2019 Healthcare Heroes which also includes patient-advocates who partnered in her effort to ensure continued access to UPMC doctors and hospitals for local patients. Together, they advocated successfully for a long-term agreement reached just before the contractual “divorce” between UPMC and Highmark Insurance.
Pennsylvania Health Access Network
“I thank PHAN for this great honor, but even more for their amazing partnership in this effort. We couldn’t have accomplished what we did without their expertise and organizing capacity. Pennsylvanians are very, very fortunate to have this organization working on their behalf on the entire range of health care issues that our citizens face,” Wagner said.
“The real heroes are those who stood up and told their stories–who called and met their elected officials, traveled four hours to rally in Harrisburg, and went on television and talked to reporters even as they were struggling with the greatest challenge of their lives. I have been so honored to work alongside them, and it is the greatest honor to be recognized along with them.”
At the award ceremony, which will take place at 11:50 a.m. at the Harrisburg Crowne Plaza Hotel, Wagner will call on advocates and all Pennsylvanians to continue efforts to ensure all patients have access to tax-exempt, “non-profit” hospitals which they have supported with their tax dollars and charitable donations.
“The fight isn’t over. The agreements that were reached are not all-encompassing and are not permanent. Many still have health plans through their employer or retirement system that offer no option that allows them to access the care that is best for them, or face crippling costs if they choose that care,” Wagner said. “Pennsylvania must take the lead in telling insurance companies and health systems that receive enormous tax benefits that this is not ok. That my child will not be denied the best care for them because of the health plan my employer chose. And that no one should be shut out of hospitals that their taxes–or sometimes even their own hands–have built.”
Later this evening, Wagner will receive a Black History Achievement Award from the Pastors’ Wives of the Churches of God in Christ Second Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction of Pennsylvania. The ceremony will take place at 7:00 p.m. at the Airport Marriott Grand Ballroom, Coraopolis. Last year, Wagner issued an audit showing that the County’s Office of Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (MWDBE) is shut out of most spending decisions, which limits the participation of disadvantaged businesses and the local impact of our tax dollars. This year, following the audit, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald released a proposed budget devoting more resources to the MWDBE program.
“Crucially and belatedly, our entire region is finally becoming aware of the disparities in health, economic opportunity, and other areas that women and communities of color face. I am so grateful to the Pastors’ Wives for their work on behalf of these communities, and am incredibly honored by their recognition” Wagner said.