Editors from across the state are voicing criticism of the Pennsylvania Senate for failing to act to help the uninsured. More than 200 days have passed since the Pennsylvania House passed legislation to create Pennsylvanis Access to Basic Care, a program to offer affordable health insurance to 272,000 uninsured Pennsylvanians. During that time, the Senate’s Republican leaders have refused to bring the House plan up for debate.
The cost of the House-passed program would be covered by premium payments made by insured individuals, a portion of an existing 25 cent-per-pack tax on cigerettes, a part of the surplus in the Health Care Provider Retention Account, funds contributed by Blue Cross/Blue Shield entities, and federal matching dollars.
From the Pottsville Republican Herald: “Lawmakers have allowed these important matters (health care and energy) to simmer far too long. They should not leave them to the next edition of the General Assembly, but should take responsibilty for them now.”
From the Philadelphia Inquirer: ” It’s time to end the months-long legislative stand-off that has pitted advocates for a House-approved insurance program covering 272,000 adults over five years versus Senate leaders, whose focus is on health clinics and private charity care. Since the uninsured are at greater risk of disease and even premature death, this issue shouldn’t be a quesion of who blinks in Harrisburg.”
From the Carlisle Sentinel: “If we thought a new (federal) administration had plans to make health care a front-burner issue, we might be inclined to say that the governor and the Legislature should just take a wait-and-see attitude and expend their energy on other issues. Not having an iron-clad commitment from either side in this regard, we encourage both sides (in Harrisburg) to make whatever progress they can to improve Pennsylvanians’ ability to take care of themselves at a reasonable cost.”
From the Scranton Times-Tribune: “Pennsylvania lawmakers have given themselves just two more days before closing the session and heading home to campaign. Unless they pass several piece of major legislation still on the table, they’ll have some serious explaining to do on the stump. Of particular importance are bills in two important areas, health care and energy.”