Monday, June 15, 2009
The state Pennsylvania House is set to vote today on a measure that would add 86,000 people to Pennsylvania's adultBasic health insurance program. The measure is a top priority for House Democratic leaders, and would expand the amount of people receiving state-funded health insurance from 46-thousand to 131,000. House Bill would pay for the expansion by tapping into Pennsylvania's medical malpractice fund, raising a tax on health insurance companies and pulling down funds from a federal matching grant program. It would also add prescription drug coverage to adultBasic. The bill troubles Republicans like Berks County Representative Doug Reichley, who argues a private sector approach is a better way to expand health care access. He says, “[W]e think that's an unreliable funding source, as opposed to providing tax credits to employers. If they get a certain kind of health care policy that tries to emphasize wellness initiatives, they would get anywhere from a 500 to 1,000 dollar tax credit per employee, rather than creating this whole new government program. We think the private sector is a better way to offer more affordable health insurance.” Majority Leader Todd Eachus, a Luzerne County Democrat, says the bill wouldn't go into effect until the federal funding is secured. Senate Republicans are cool to the measure, but Eachus says if it passes the House he'll try to make it part of budget negotiations.