Thursday, March 24, 2011

Field Hearing on Healthcare Leans Right

A year after the federal health care overhaul was signed into law, the measure remains a partisan lighting rod. On the legislation’s one-year anniversary, Republican Congressman Joe Pitts held a Harrisburg field hearing on the measure’s impact. The press release announcing the event included phrases like “broken promises” and “Obamacare” and the first few questions of the event followed suit. An early question from Republican G.T. Thompson was directed at acting Pennsylvania Public Welfare Secretary Gary Alexander. “Mr. Secretary, the new law creates a trillion dollar entitlement program, expands Medicaid, imposes new taxes and regulatory burdens on American employers and workers. In your view, does the new law control and reduce the trend of increasing public health care expenditures in Pennsylvania?” Sec. Alexander’s response, “Absolutely not.”

On the other side of the spectrum was the Democratic group Organizing for America. The group is holding several events across Pennsylvania celebrating the law’s passage. Organizing for America argues the measure has already expanded coverage options by letting people stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, and barring companies from denying coverage to those with preexisting conditions. OFA’s PA Director, Elizabeth Lucas says, “It includes free preventative care, that can change things down the road for them significantly. It also lowers the cost of prescription drugs that they have to pay, the Medicare they can count on.”

In the meantime, Governor Corbett is asking President Obama to speed up legal challenges, so the Supreme Court can rule on the case. “Pennsylvania and all states need clarity. Our businesses, our health care providers and our citizens deserve quick action, and frankly, we need to know what our options and obligations will be.” says Corbett.

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