Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce president Karen Groh is settling into her latest extracurricular: serving on the Pennsylvania Health Care Exchange Advisory Council, a body of health care representatives from across the state who have been tapped to provide feedback on Pennsylvania’s transition to a state-based health exchange.
The Commonwealth has been inching away from the federal exchange established under the Affordable Care Act and closer to a fully state-based exchange.
As of January, Pennsylvania has adopted a transitional “state-based exchange-federal platform.” Proponents argue the transition will cut the cost of health care coverage: the newly-created Pennsylvania Health Insurance Exchange Authority aims to reduce premiums by five to 10 percent and potentially expand benefits.
Groh was appointed to fill the state chamber’s seat within the advisory council in December. LebTown caught up with her following the body’s first meeting of the year in Harrisburg on Feb. 7.
The local chamber president said members of the council discussed logistics and goals such as making sure a state-based exchange is accessible and easy to navigate.
Groh’s role on the advisory council is to be the liaison between legislators and small businesses. She’ll be communicating policy changes to small business owners in the Lebanon Valley and working to address their concerns. She will also be collaborating with her fellow chamber leaders across the state to address the concerns of their constituencies.
“It’s really important for us [council members] to have input on some of the decisions that are made along the way that might help guide the process,” Groh said. “We are also going to be advocates for communication to the general population on why this is going well and what the process is.”
The local chamber president said the advisory council will hold meetings twice per year, but will correspond frequently with new input from constituents.
“If there is something that businesses in this region really wish was different on the exchange, then I’m a conduit to pass that information on directly to those who are writing the new plan,” Groh said. Local businesses, she added, should know that they have access to with a direct line to Harrisburg who can help influence policy on some level.
The rest of the advisory council is composed of consumer and industry representatives from varied areas of expertise, allowing for the inclusion of multiple perspectives.
“It’s just the exposure that we each have individually that can help, even if it’s just small tweaks along the way to make a little bit of a difference,” Groh said. “I felt really good that there were people working on this change who were 100 percent invested in trying to make this the best change possible: well-thought through, best for the citizens and best for the Commonwealth, from a budgetary standpoint.”
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