Negotiations To Expand Pennsylvania Health Coverage Progressing
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) on Wednesday told reporters that talks with Republican state senators are moving along and could result in compromise legislation to cover hundreds of thousands of uninsured state residents, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. According to Rendell, a surplus in the tobacco tax-funded account created to help doctors pay medical malpractice premiums has grown so large that the state can afford to cover about 200,000 more adults in the first year and about 400,000 more in the second year. He also said the state would be able to provide these individuals with no-cost generic drugs.
He asked the General Assembly, which is not expected to reconvene after the November election, to add days to the "handful" of session days scheduled for September and October, the AP/Inquirer reports. In a conference call with the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, Rendell said, "These are crucial issues that can't be deferred." House Democrats and Senate Republicans have proposed different measures to make health care more affordable, and Rendell said he was looking for middle ground. "We're trying to include some of the best elements of their proposal with our elements that would increase coverage."
However, state Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee Chair Ted Erickson (R) said that settling on a funding source, particularly one that would remain effective into the future, remained a sticking point. A spokesperson for House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese (D) said it was unlikely that more session days will be added (Scolforo, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/11).
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