PA House Health Care Task Force Pitches Proposals to President Obama
9/30/2009
Taking up President Barack Obama on his offer to listen to serious proposals on health care, members of the House Republican Health Care Task Force are encouraging him to examine their 14-bill health care package in the hope of bringing it to the national debate on health care reform.
 
The Health Care Task Force, led by co-chairs Reps. Katharine Watson (R-Bucks/144th) and Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster/100th), is an arm of the House Republican Policy Committee, chaired by Rep. Stan Saylor (R-York/94th).
 
“Our Health Care Task Force has spent a great deal of time developing a package of proposals that we believe will lower health care costs and expand access to health care by providing more choice and competition,” said Saylor.  “Pennsylvania’s 12 million citizens represent a wide range of demographic groups, and we believe we are uniquely positioned to serve as a demonstration project for the entire nation.”
 
The letter details the various legislation introduced by members of the Task Force. After countless hours of research and interviews, the group developed bills to lower the cost of health care for all Pennsylvanians while expanding access to those without insurance.
 
“We are pleased that President Obama is intent on listening to all serious ideas about health care reform, and are taking him up on his offer that his door is always open,” said Watson. “Since 2007, our Task Force has been listening to patients, physicians, health care professionals and the business community and responding with a multi-faceted approach that puts people in charge of their health care decisions and encourages individuals and employers to offer health care coverage.”
 
In addition, the Task Force is hopeful that the President will make Pennsylvania one of the demonstration projects he discussed in his national address on Sept. 9. In fact, the Task Force pointed out in the letter that its ideas dovetail with Obama’s guiding principle that “consumers do better when there is choice and competition.”
 
“It is important that health care reform address the barriers faced by rural families,” said Cutler. “Pennsylvania is a diverse state, and a one-size-fits-all approach simply would not work. The proposal we have crafted offer options to provide health care reform.”
Bills developed by the Task Force include: 
  • House Bill 134, which offers an affordable, low-cost insurance product. 
  • House Bill 266, which allows more Pennsylvanians access to the adultBasic program by establishing a sliding scale premium based on income and requires the department to verify eligibility every six months and use rolling enrollment procedures. 
  • House Bill 1553, which uses the one-time federal stimulus funds as a source of funding grants to bring technology online for the prevention of medical errors and greater efficiency. 
  • House Bill 825,which requires health care facilities throughout the Commonwealth to use an electronic prescribing system. 
  • House Bill 1626, which invests $25 million for the expansion of Federally Qualified Health Centers, hospital based clinics, free clinics, etc. to increase access to primary and prenatal care. It also would provide a medical and dental home and helps to lower the cost of care. 
  • Measure to provide a $1,000 per employee tax credit for small business owners (less than 50 employees) who provide health insurance to their employees. This encourages employers to provide health care for their employees and prevent crowd-out, whereby employers stop providing health insurance. 
  • Tax credit up to $1,000 to individuals who purchase health insurance if their employer does not provide such coverage.  
  • A $500 per employee tax credit for small business owners with less than 50 employees who purchase and provide a disease management program. 
“We recognize that you may not approve of every suggestion offered, but we are open to suggestions that may help us find an agreement in principle while we work out the details of the legislation,” the letter stated. “Together we can, and must, make progress on one of the greatest issues of our time. We believe that by working together we can use Pennsylvania as a demonstration project to show that health care reform can rise above politics and be based only on what is best for those we live with, work with, and serve.”
 
The Task Force’s plan is not dependent on higher taxes and does not cause additional stress to middle-class families who are already struggling. The model is suitable for the current economic climate.
 
In addition to Saylor, Watson and Cutler, the letter is signed by all members of the Task Force: Reps. Scott Boyd (R-Lancaster/43rd), John Evans (R-Erie-Crawford/5th), Seth Grove (R-York/196th), Thomas Killion (R-Delaware-Chester/168th), Tina Pickett (R-Bradford-Sullivan-Susquehanna/110th), Doug Reichley (R-Lehigh-Berks/134th), Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny/30th), Health and Human Services Chairman Matt Baker (R-Bradford/Tioga) and Insurance Chairman Nicholas Micozzie (R-Delaware).
 
House Republican Health Care Task Force
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Caucus site: PAHouseGOP.com
Contact: Jennifer Keaton or Holly Lubart
Phone: (717) 705-2094 or (717) 260-6217
E-mail: jkeaton@pahousegop.com or hlubart@pahousegop.com