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A state Senate bill seeks to make treatment for chronically ill patients more affordable

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

On today’s episode of The Confluence:

A proposed state bill could help chronically ill patients have an easier time getting access to new treatments 
(0:00 - 7:26)

Pennsylvania lawmakers proposed a new bill that aims to make it easier for chronically ill patients to access new treatments for their conditions. This legislation looks 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 make a standardized process for doctors to either approve or request exemptions and allow patients to appeal their insurance company’s decision.

“It's going to apply to all insurance, whether it's private insurance or Medicaid, and it's going to cut red tape that consumes the provider and makes it difficult to get medical care,” says State Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill from York, the sponsor of Senate Bill 225.

The state House has six session days left 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 rackets
(7:33 - 16:49)

Before the Steelers turned a profit, Art Rooney Sr.’s financial fortune had been credited to horse racing, stock investments, and promoting boxing.

But a recent investigation by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette found that, from the mid-1920s to the late 1940s, the patriarch of the family was also a prominent figure in the city’s rackets.

“He ran operations and everything from slot machines to the numbers. He had an illegal brewery. He had an illegal casino in speakeasy… and he parlayed all that into an early fortune,” Sean Hamill, reporter with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, says. “Multiple historians who have looked at some of these issues have said the Steelers do not exist were it not for his role in the rackets.”

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

Allegheny County Judge rules that city officials can remove the Christopher Columbus statue from Schenley park
(16:55 - 22:30)

An Allegheny County judge has ruled that Pittsburgh city officials can remove the Christopher Columbus statue from Schenley Park. The ruling 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 this would be disrespectful to Italian-Americans, ”says Bill O’Driscoll, WESA’s arts and culture reporter.

Common Pleas Judge John McVay Jr. recommended moving the statue to private property, but the Gainey administration has yet to comment if they will pursue taking this statue down.

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

Updated: October 7, 2022 at 11:02 AM EDT
This story has been updated to reflect that the Post-Gazette investigation will be published next week, not on Friday, October 7, as previously expected.
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