Pennsylvania Is One Step Closer To Providing Access To Health Care For Uninsured
Governor Edward G. Rendell today praised the House of Representatives for taking an important first step in passing its Pennsylvania Access to Basic Care (PA ABC) plan, and he urged the Senate to immediately consider the proposal.
PA ABC would provide access to health care for many of Pennsylvania's uninsured while continuing to help physicians pay their medical malpractice insurance premiums. It would also eliminate the Mcare Fund, return all malpractice coverage to the private market, and pay off Mcare's unfunded liability.
"Since the time I first announced my Prescription for Pennsylvania health care reform plan in January 2007, and especially the Cover All Pennsylvanians component of that plan, I have repeatedly asked the General Assembly to talk with us about ways to make sure the uninsured in this state have access to health care," Governor Rendell said as he talked to reporters about SB 1137, which passed the House late Monday afternoon.
"I said we were willing to negotiate and would welcome ideas to improve the CAP plan I proposed. I thank the House Democrats for accepting my challenge and congratulate the House on bringing us one step closer to making sure Pennsylvanians have access to health care.
"House Democrats' CAP-like plan, Pennsylvania Access to Basic Care, doesn't cover quite as many people as CAP would have covered, but it does provide sorely needed access to care and has some excellent additions that improve our proposal."
The Governor said that in addition to offering access to care for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians through a private market insurance product, ABC provides relief to small businesses that struggle the most in providing insurance to their employees. ABC creates a new initiative that provides grants to low-wage small businesses that already offer health insurance to help them cope with the cost.
"Finally, the ABC bill meets my goal of continuing to aid Pennsylvania's physicians with their malpractice costs while giving people access to care," Governor Rendell said. "Over the past five years, physicians have received nearly $1 billion in assistance and would continue to receive help in paying their malpractice bills for 10 years until the fund providing that coverage was phased out -- another goal that physicians have long sought.
"There were bipartisan votes for this bill and I congratulate those House members who had the courage to stand up for Pennsylvania citizens who are imploring us to give them a solution to their health care challenges. Now, all attention will turn to the Senate to pass this vital legislation."
The Governor repeated his opposition to signing a bill offering physicians just one more year of their malpractice abatements unless there was meaningful progress toward offering access to health care for Pennsylvanians. Without action by the Senate before March 31, the malpractice bills of physicians and other health care providers will begin to come due.
"A plan to provide health insurance has been on the table for more than one year," Governor Rendell said. "There has been ample time for study and discussion of this issue. Uninsured individuals and small businesses from across the state are clamoring for relief and help. The time to act is now. I urge the Senate to follow the House's lead and support ABC."