Rx4PA

Rx4PA: As the economy tumbles

The economy is tumbling. The AP reported this morning that jobs have dropped for a year now.

The number of newly laid off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits soared last week.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that claims for unemployment benefits rose by 35,000 to 380,000. Private economists had expected claims would rise by a smaller 18,000.

The story goes on to suggest that we're due to lose another 70K across our economy.

Here in PA, we've got a chance to extend healthcare coverage to many of the people who will be laid off here, at affordable prices, and thereby ease the suffering of many workers out of work. It's money that's stopping it.

Smokers have been taxed here, among other things, to create a fund that cuts malpractice premiums (at the very least) in half across PA. We collected much too much tax money for that fund and now the state wants authorization to reallocate part of that money into paying for the uninsured.

With another dime per pack on cigarettes and reallocating this money that's just sitting, we could cover many of the uninsured here. In a few years, I believe, the program would reach all of them.

The man-on-the-street will have a lot less money in his pocket, soon, when he loses his job and when a general economic tightening reins in the hours, the bonuses, the overtime, the promotions, the raises and the tips or commissions of others. We can, at least, insure that he remains whole and healthy through this downturn.

The Senate R's are coming out with their own plan this week. It's not likely to cut a break to consumers. They are more than content to let their sick constituents get sicker and destroy the liquidity of working families who catch a bad break in order to stay tight with doctors and hospitals. We can't let them do it. SB 1137 is the right vehicle to maintain health through the coming recession and it should simply pass.

Pass Cover All Pennsylvanians: our visit to the Northeast

(Philadelphia - 3/4/08) - Outside the City of Philadelphia's Neighborhood Health Center #10 Tuesday, Philadelphia leaders gathered to call on the Northeast House Delegation to support Cover All Pennsylvanians [CAP]. "As a person working without insurance, I'm at risk every day of losing my job because of an injury or sickness whose care I won't be able to pay for," said, Andre Butler, Chair of the Philadelphia Unemployment Project Board and member of the Health Center #10 Community Board.

Speaking through a representative, Deputy Mayor for Health and Opportunity, Don Schwarz, MD, said in a written statement, "It is for this and many other reasons that I am standing with you all today, as health care is being debated in Harrisburg, to affirm my support for CAP, Cover All Pennsylvanians, a proposed health insurance package that would prove health insurance to the uninsured in Pennsylvania."

A hearing of the State House of Representatives Appropriations Committee considered the benefits and funding sources for CAP this afternoon. CAP would cover doctor visits, tests, hospitals stays and prescriptions. Most of the funding would come from existing pools, with a slight increase in tobacco taxes covering the rest. A vote on CAP and reforms in the small group insurance market is expected in the State House next week.

Rx4PA: Doctors join the call for covering the Uninsured

govwithfumoweb.jpg

On Monday we saw Governor Rendell stand with leaders in the Salvation Army and Democratic Legislators. While I'm always excited to find myself on the same side as the Democratic Appropriations Chairman, Sen. Vince Fumo, the real news Monday was that doctors are coming out in numbers saying that they support the Prescription for Pennsylvania. The Orthopedic Society came out and said that they could support using some of the tobacco tax money used to offset their medical malpractice liabilities for covering the uninsured. The Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association took the same stance.

Rx4PA: Doctors join the call for covering the Uninsured

govwithfumoweb.jpg

On Monday we saw Governor Rendell stand with leaders in the Salvation Army and Democratic Legislators. While I'm always excited to find myself on the same side as the Democratic Appropriations Chairman, Sen. Vince Fumo, the real news Monday was that doctors are coming out in numbers saying that they support the Prescription for Pennsylvania. The Orthopedic Society came out and said that they could support using some of the tobacco tax money used to offset their medical malpractice liabilities for covering the uninsured. The Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association took the same stance.

Rx4PA: House Bill 2098 would do for Pennsylvania what Medicare has done for everyone

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO is pressing legislators to pass HB 2098, a bill submitted on December 6th and sitting before the House Insurance Committee (authored by its chair, Rep. DeLuca). We were all a little disappointed earlier this year when the legislative process failed to make good on Governor Rendell's plan to allow our insurers to quit paying for infections and mistakes made by Hospitals. Then, the next thing we knew, Medicare (by far the biggest spender in Healthcare) came along and said it wasn't going to pay for those mistakes or infections starting late in 2008, anyway. Which could have nearly the same effect, so HB 2098 seeks to give our Pennsylvania insurers that same right: to refuse to pay bills for procedures correcting conditions that hospitals should have prevented.

"But wait! I thought we already solved this problem?" you ask. Sure you do. We did something about it, but we sure didn't solve it. In fact, in one very important way, we took a step backward. A big step. Click Read More to see what I mean!

Rx4PA: HB 2005 clears its first committee hurdle

HB 2005 came out of the House Insurance Committee this week. It's a bill that Rep. Deluca (D-Pittsburgh) wrote that finally gives us some control of the health insurance industry. Imagine: up to this point, car insurance was better regulated than health insurance. That's like telling a kid not to run with scissors but letting him play with your guns. That could end. Word on the street is that they'll get HB2005 to the floor by the end of the year. That would be good.

Of course, lobbying and politics made it all more complicated than the had been initially planned. I'm not going to put the text of the bill in here, but here's the deal: small employers get nailed on their premiums all the time. Let's say we've got a plumbing company, right? We'll call it Dan & Ray's Plumbing. You've got this great plumber named Jen, and Jen's been working with you for years. Great gal. Works hard. She's in her late 40's. The doctor tells her that she needs a double-bypass. Big bill to your insurance carrier. Suddenly, we're paying a lot more money for all our plumbers, all our shop assistants and all our administrative staff. Premiums can spike like crazy because one of your crew had the audacity to get sick. The nerve.

Sickness is no good for insurance company profits.

Healthcare: if you're waiting for a market solution, the market has already made it's opinion pretty clear.

“Despite an upturn in the overall economy, the loss of health insurance coverage through employers has continued,” said Sharon Ward, Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC), a non-partisan policy research project that analyzes state tax and budget matters. “Health insurance, which for a long time came as a basic benefit to a decent, middle-class job, is quickly disappearing for many Pennsylvanians.” From a press release found here.

Ward bases her comments on a new study on employer based health coverage that's out from the Economic Policy Institute.

Republicans like to paint themselves as pro-business and pro-market, but if you look at a lot of the policies some of them espouse around healthcare, it's really just pro-certain-really-rich-people. This is an important difference. Why? Click "Read More" to find out.

Syndicate content