Gary Rotstein's Sept. 22 article "Metro Area Ranks 2nd in Health Insurance" underscores the long-standing tradition of many segments of our region to help people obtain health insurance. For decades, Highmark has worked cooperatively with hospitals, doctors, employers, unions, local and state government and community groups to develop health insurance programs to protect vulnerable segments of our community: the unemployed, children of the unemployed and underemployed, and lower-income working adults. In fact, the national Children's Health Insurance Program was modeled after a communitywide partnership in Western Pennsylvania in the mid-1980s to provide insurance for kids from economically disadvantaged families.
One reason that our region and Philadelphia have one of the highest rates of people with health insurance is the important role played by Highmark and the state's other Blue Cross companies. For more than 70 years, we've worked diligently to meet our unique mission -- to make health-care coverage available to all segments of the community, regardless of health status. In the past three years alone, Highmark has provided more than $350 million in financial support to help hold down the cost and expand access to health-care coverage for hundreds of thousands of lower-income families, older adults and uninsured children.
To be sure, there are still too many people without health insurance. However, the cooperative efforts and shared responsibility of key participants of our region's health-care system offer a blueprint to members of Congress on how to expand the availability of health insurance. At the same time, to enact meaningful health-care reform, congressional leaders also must focus attention on controlling rising health-care costs.
KENNETH R. MELANI, M.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer