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Healthcare for All Pennsylvania: We Cannot Wait for 2014
In light of Sunday night's historic U.S. House of Representatives 219-212 "yes" vote on HR 3590 (and likely passage of the same in the U.S. Senate later this week) the legislative work of Healthcare for All Pennsylvania is even more crucial, more time-sensitive, and more opportune than ever.
First, there is something truly, politically remarkable when a majority of any U.S. Congress can agree on any set of reforms regarding a topic as big as healthcare economics and healthcare delivery. Underscoring the political achievement is the fact that we are in a mid-term election year, and funding of such elections is akin to the “Wild West.” Just a week ago, passage of this healthcare legislation appeared 50-50, at best. Two months ago, many were writing its obituary.
So, politically, HR 3590 is a feat; policy-wise, HR 3590 is rife with opportunities, challenges, and complications.
Washington's election year "spin" aside, HR 3590 does not deal fundamentally, systemically, or expeditiously (2014 implementation date) with questions of "affordable, comprehensive, quality, healthcare for all" even close to the degree that PA's HR 1660/SB 400 tackles those questions.
Moreover, while the national healthcare bill funnels nearly a trillion dollars to buy or subsidize insurance for the uninsured in the profit-first market, and compels (through threat of fines) the purchase of more insurance in the same Blues-monopoly market, HR 3590 does nearly nothing to address the problem of underinsurance – either for the newly insured or for those who are currently insured. Insurance premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and incidence of medical bankruptcy will continue to escalate under HR 3590.
We citizens of Pennsylvania cannot afford to wait until the year 2014. We acknowledge the longer-term benefits of HR 3590 – expansion of Medicaid, ban on pre-existing conditions, and more – while paying close attention to policy openings and opportunities at the state level, as presented by this political breakthrough.
Thus, our work continues more feverishly than ever, grateful that this congressional battle is nearly behind us, with eyes fixed on the new possibilities before us.
With fair-share funding authorized by HB 1660/SB 400, Governor Rendell's signature assured, and near-equal measures of Republican and Democratic leadership and participation, we are poised to win for our state, and for our nation – this year – the proven One Payer Solution: publicly-funded, privately delivered, cost-saving, life-enhancing, job-generating, quality, comprehensive healthcare for all.
Chuck Pennacchio, Ph.D.
Healthcare for All Pennsylvania