State Lawmakers Advised to Delay Health-Care Reform
Boyer, Lauren, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
HARRISBURG -- With President Obama's plan for a comprehensive overhaul of America's health-care system pending in Congress, some Republican lawmakers are questioning the necessity of recent reform initiatives in Pennsylvania.
The state House spent a day this week amending House Bill 1, which would expand the state's adult Basic health insurance program for uninsured, low-income adults by 85,000 to 130,000 people.
Under the bill, sponsored by Majority Leader Todd Eachus, D- Luzerne, the expanded program would be funded partly by a 2 percent tax on nonprofit health-insurance companies and a surplus in the state's fund that helps doctors pay malpractice premiums.
Erik Arneson, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware County, said the Senate will review the bill but has not scheduled any action on it.
"The best thing the state can do is wait ... and see what the federal government does," Arneson said. "This bill is not fully funded. ... It uses a lot of one-time funding with fiscal implications that are completely unresolved."
House Minority Whip Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, said changes at the state level are "just a show, and not about substance."
"The Democrats are more interested in sound bites without addressing the real policy choices in front of us," Turzai said. "Why expand a program that relies on federal approval when the federal system is likely to be changed shortly, one way or another?"
Eachus's spokesman, Brett Marcy, disagreed.
"These changes allow us to use federal dollars to help pay for the program, and they allow us to expand our program with no additional cost to taxpayers," Marcy said. …