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PA Motorcycle Helmet Law Repeal Concerns Region's Hospitals

WARRENDALE, Pa., June 17 -- Hospital Council of Western Pennsylvania, representing hospitals with trauma centers throughout the region, urges state lawmakers not to repeal the current motorcycle helmet law.

"We know that if motorcyclists are not wearing helmets, the risk of head injury and even death increases significantly in accidents. These injuries are emotionally and financially draining for patients and their families," said Ian G. Rawson, Ph.D., president of Hospital Council. "With helmets, the same type of head injury would be less severe and some deaths would be prevented."

In addition, the cost of treating motorcyclists with head injuries is high for private insurance companies, health care providers and taxpayers. Motorcycle insurance does not cover the healthcare costs of motorcyclists in an accident. Motorcyclists have to rely on their personal health insurance to cover the costs of an accident.

Health care providers face an impact, Rawson said, because the average cost to treat a motorcyclist with a head injury is more than $43,000. Less than half of these costs are covered by private health insurers or individuals involved in accidents.

"Healthcare organizations across the region are struggling financially, already," Rawson said. "Hospitals continue to face cuts in medical assistance reimbursement, Medicare reimbursement, and at the same time increasing costs in medical liability insurance. Any additional increases, such as providing even more uncompensated care, will have a negative impact on trauma centers and hospitals in this region."

The impact on taxpayers is significant because patients with severe head injuries cannot return to work, and often these patients and their families become dependent on state-funded welfare programs.

"We urge our state representatives not to vote for the repeal of the helmet law," Rawson said. "We thank those Senators who did not vote for the repeal yesterday, especially Senator Jack Wagner. It is vital that we consider the grave impact this repeal would have on all of those involved, including motorcyclists themselves, trauma centers and hospitals and taxpayers in Pennsylvania."

Hospital Council of Western Pennsylvania is a member association representing more than 80 healthcare providers in a 30-county region.