Our grassroots organizing campaign to get an economic impact study to pass HB 1660,
a Single Payer, guaranteed healthcare program for all Pennsylvanians, also called "Family
and Business Healthcare Security Act" has reached higher ground as three separate events
converge that bode extremely well for the eventual passage of the bill.
Here is a summery of these three events:
1) Independence Blue Cross of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh based Highmark Blue Shield were poised to merge
and take over health insurance coverage here in Pennsylvania.
But both companies withdrew the merger for reasons that had to do with the fact that the merger would
reduce competition for the health care dollar plus an unwillingness on the part of both companies to
give up the "Blue Cross-Blue Shield" brand each company spend seventy years developing.
Bottom line, the merger was not going to be approved very likely because of activist opposition by groups such
as Healthcare for All Pa.
The merger got lost in the squabble over all of these details.
Single Payer activists are confident that the failure of this merger will dramatically boost the prospects
that the Pennsylvania State legislature will pass HB 1660/SB 300, Universal Healthcare, the "Family and Business
Healthcare Security Act" that Governor Rendell repeatedly said he will sign.
Executive Director of Healthcare For All Pennsylvania, Chuck Pennacchio, responded to the January 22, 2009
news by saying," The dramatic defeat of the previously "untouchable" health insurance giants signals a power
shift in Harrisburg that nobody saw coming.
Added Pennacchio, "Healthcare for All Pennsylvania's 8,000 members have spent much of the last year fighting
this monopoly merger, while advocating for the proven Single Payer Solution--both on the basis of economics,
human decency and simple common sense. Today we are victorious in blocking the expansion of an industry
that causes the loss of 31 cents out of every healthcare dollar: an industry that profits off our suffering, and puts
95% of us at risk for medical bankruptcy should we experience a medical catastrophe. Having achieved the first
of our two goals, we are now poised to enact the law called "Family and Business Healthcare Security Act."
The "Family and Business Healthcare Security Act " will establish a healthcare policy in the Commonwealth
of Pennsylvania by the following terms: publicly-funded, privately provided, guaranteed, comprehensive,
quality, affordable healthcare for all temporary and legal Pennsylvanian citizens, plus migrant farm workers and
out of state students.
Every body In. Nobody out.
2) Philadelphia City Council unanimously voted to support HB 1660 and SB 300.
Passage of HB 1660/SB 300 would give the City of Philadelphia a estimated $500 million surplus, more than
enough to cover Mayor Nutter's projected budget shortfall of 2 billion dollars over the next 5 years,
Additionally, HB 1660/SB 300 would guarantee access to comprehensive health care at much less cost than what average
families are now paying, generate thousands of new healthcare delivery jobs, save an average business that provides healthcare,
an estimated 25%-60% on health care costs a year, reduce property tax, (in theory) cut auto-insurance rates, (in theory) reduce worker's
compensation costs, retain existing businesses and encourage the development of new businesses, and reverse
the physician and nursing shortages facing cities and rural areas all across the State.
3) Healthcare For All Pennsylvania are now organizing a state wide blitz to pass HB 1660/SB 300 legislation.
Eighteen local and regional organizers met last weekend at the Council of Churches Building in Harrisburg for training
on how to pass theHB 1660 and SB 300.
We learned proven organizing stradegies and tactics at the meeting for enacting Pennsylvania's "Family and Business
Healthcare Security Act."
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