Economic Reform Starts With Single Payer

Feb 13


Kate Loving Shenk

Kate Loving Shenk

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Some great news about healthcare reform in Pennsylvania.


Our grassroots organizing campaign to get an economic impact study to pass HB 1660,Economic Reform Starts With Single Payer Articles a Single Payer, guaranteed healthcare program for all Pennsylvanians, also called "Family and Business Healthcare Security Act" has reached higher ground as three separate events converge that bode extremely well for the eventual passage of the bill.

Here is a summery of these three events:

1) Independence Blue Cross of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh based Highmark Blue Shield were poised to merge and take over health insurance coverage here in Pennsylvania.

But both companies withdrew the merger for reasons that had to do with the fact that the merger would reduce competition for the health care dollar plus an unwillingness on the part of both companies to  give up the "Blue Cross-Blue Shield" brand each company spend seventy years developing.

Bottom line, the merger was not going to be approved very likely because of activist opposition by groups such as Healthcare for All Pa.

The merger got lost in the squabble over all of these details.

Single Payer activists are confident that the failure of this merger will dramatically boost the prospects that the Pennsylvania State legislature will pass HB 1660/SB 300, Universal Healthcare, the "Family and Business  Healthcare Security Act" that Governor Rendell repeatedly said he will sign.

Executive Director of Healthcare For All Pennsylvania, Chuck Pennacchio, responded to the January 22, 2009 news by saying," The dramatic defeat of the previously "untouchable" health insurance giants signals a power shift in Harrisburg that nobody saw coming. , Added Pennacchio, "Healthcare for All Pennsylvania's 8,000 members have spent much of the last year fighting this monopoly merger, while advocating for the  proven Single Payer Solution--both on the basis of economics, human decency and simple common sense. Today we are victorious in blocking the expansion of an industry that causes the loss of 31 cents out of every healthcare dollar: an industry that profits off our suffering, and puts 95% of us at risk for medical bankruptcy should we experience a medical catastrophe. Having achieved the first  of our two goals, we are now poised to enact the law called "Family and Business Healthcare Security Act."

The "Family and Business Healthcare Security Act " will establish a healthcare policy in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by the following terms: publicly-funded, privately provided, guaranteed, comprehensive, quality, affordable healthcare for all temporary and legal Pennsylvanian citizens, plus migrant farm workers and out of state students.

Every body In. Nobody out.

2) Philadelphia City Council unanimously voted to support HB 1660 and SB 300.

Passage of HB 1660/SB 300 would give the City of Philadelphia a estimated $500 million surplus, more than enough to cover Mayor Nutter's projected budget shortfall of 2 billion dollars over the next 5 years,

Additionally, HB 1660/SB 300 would guarantee access to comprehensive health care at much less cost than what average families are now paying, generate thousands of new healthcare delivery jobs, save an average business that provides healthcare, an estimated 25%-60% on health care costs a year, reduce property tax, (in theory) cut auto-insurance rates, (in theory) reduce worker's compensation costs, retain existing businesses and encourage the development of new businesses, and reverse the physician and nursing shortages facing cities and rural areas all across the State.

3) Healthcare For All Pennsylvania  are now organizing a state wide blitz to pass HB 1660/SB 300 legislation.

Eighteen local and regional organizers met last weekend at the Council of Churches Building in Harrisburg for training  on how to pass theHB 1660 and SB 300.

We learned proven organizing stradegies and tactics at the meeting for enacting Pennsylvania's "Family and Business Healthcare Security Act."

Pennsylvania Senate Bill 300 and House Bill 1660 will soon be reintroduced in the legislature and enjoy unique political advantages, placing the legislation on the inside track among universal healthcare proposals across the nation.

Pennacchio said at the meeting, " Pennsylvania led the charge that established the nation's independence from British tyranny in the eighteenth century. Today we declare our independence from profit-centured health insurance company tyrants who systematically highjack health care decisions and funding to maximize profits, perks, and CEO salaries."

Workshops included education, organization, media and social media outreach, internal and external  communication and fund raising.

Unique public advantages include: promised signature by Governor Rendell upon passage of the bill;  funding  authority contained within the legislation itself; bi-partisan co-sponsorship of the bill; overwhelming bi-partison support for an economic impact study on HB 1660/ SB 300; public opinion support of legislative goals (68%, 5/1/08, Quinnipaic Survey of Pa).

Thanks to Chuck Pennacchio for providing me the information to write this article! And thanks to Chuck for his never-ending persistence in achieving healthcare to all Pennsylvania citizens.

Thanks also to all members of Healthcare For All Pa, and a special thanks to Jerry Policoff, who with Chuck, pioneers this crucial and important work.

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