Pennsylvania Urges Support For Health Care Expansion Proposal
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) in a letter sent to state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R) on Monday urged action on compromise legislation to expand health insurance coverage to the uninsured, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports (Fahy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/7).
Rendell last week proposed two alternative funding mechanisms for a scaled-down version of his proposal. The revised proposals would expand coverage to an additional 250,000 uninsured adults; the previous proposal sought to expand coverage to an additional 270,000 adults. Under the revised proposals, the annual cost of the plan would range from $723 million to $857 million by fiscal year 2012-2013, according to estimates from the Rendell administration.
Rendell said both options would use a combination of existing state revenue and federal funding and would not include any tax increases. The revised proposals also include funding for health clinics that serve low-income residents, as well as for the MCARE abatement program, which helps physicians pay for medical malpractice insurance. The program expired in March and Rendell said he would not reauthorize it until an agreement was reached on expanding health coverage (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 10/3).
In the most recent letter, Rendell said, "After endless meetings between our staffs, it is time to act," adding that the latest proposal has "no measurable opposition" from leading health care groups and does not require a tax increase.
Meanwhile, Senate Republican leaders sent a letter to Rendell, which "did not seem to raise hopes that the two sides will reach a quick agreement," according to the Post-Gazette. The lawmakers raised concerns about the fiscal sustainability of the proposal, stating that the projected year-end state budget deficit and a "worsening world economic crisis" do not make the plan plausible.
The legislative session ends on Wednesday (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/7).
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