Fighting Universal Health Care

Coverage of yesterday’s press conference on the concerns about “Cover All Kids” – the Governor’s proposed universal health care coverage for children in the Morning Call.

Also from Capitolwire (Subscription). I particularly love this quote from Rendell’s office: “It doesn’t matter if [Rep. Rohrer] thinks it needs to be studied,” said Kate Philips, Rendell’s spokeswoman. “His leadership signed a commitment.” In other words, since 8 legislative leaders wrote a letter that they would draft legislation (not guarantee passage), then Rep. Rohrer and the other 245 General Assembly member’s opinions and votes count for nothing. Is Rendell proposing we shrink the size of the general assembly to 8?

HARRISBURG (Oct. 17) – Pennsylvania lawmakers will vote on the expansion of the state’s subsidized health insurance program for children in the coming days, but some lawmakers, policy groups and private insurance providers are questioning the wisdom of the decision.

On Monday, Rep. Sam Rohrer, R-Berks, discussed the issue in a news conference at the state Capitol with representatives of the Commonwealth Foundation, a Harrisburg-based conservative think tank, and the Pennsylvania Association of Health Underwriters. He urged “members of the General Assembly to hold off on the ‘Cover All Kids’ initiative until more research is done about the impact on private sector insurance.”

Despite concerns expressed by Rohrer and some of his Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives, the Rendell administration’s position is clear: Lawmakers made a promise they must now honor. “It doesn’t matter if [Rep. Rohrer] thinks it needs to be studied,” said Kate Philips, Rendell’s spokeswoman. “His leadership signed a commitment.”

Philips said Rohrer should have asked for this study months ago when Rendell proposed the idea and before Republican leadership worked out a deal with Rendell. In a letter to the governor, Republican and Democratic leaders of both the House and Senate wrote they would “work with [Gov. Rendell] to statutorily craft the language necessary to amend [the] CHIP program to expand the qualifying income levels, maximize federal resources and provide children’s health insurance for families who otherwise could not afford to purchase this vital coverage for their children.”
Philips said Rohrer’s call for an impact study is “not a legitimate reason” to prevent children from getting health insurance coverage. “It’s disgraceful at best,” she added.

Matthew J. Brouillette, president of the Commonwealth Foundation, said private health insurance providers could reduce their insurance offerings in the state if forced to compete with taxpayer-subsidized public sector insurance programs, thereby creating more uninsured people.
Brouillette also warned that expanding the CHIP program could create a budgetary problem for the state due to potentially incorrect assumptions by the Rendell administration about program use and costs in the coming years.