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General News    H2'ed 1/22/09

Victory for PA Patients and Providers; Defeat for Profit-First Health Insurers

Message Chuck Pennacchio
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Independence Blue Cross-Highmark Monopoly Snuffed Out
Victory for Patients and ProvidersDefeat for Profit-First Health Insurers
Yesterday's stunning development (see article below) that set back the monopoly-consolidation plans of Pennsylvania's two largest health insurance companies, Philadelphia-based Independence Blue Cross and Pittsburgh-based Highmark, also dramatically boosts the prospects of Pennsylvania's State Legislature passing our universal healthcare legislation, the "Family and Business Healthcare Security Act."  Governor Ed Rendell -- alone among state executives -- is on record, repeatedly saying that he will sign our public single payer bill once it hits his desk.
Healthcare for All Pennsylvania Executive Director Chuck Pennacchio responded to yesterday's news: "This dramatic defeat for the previously 'untouchable' health insurance giants signals a power shift in Harrisburg that very few people 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 our every healthcare dollar -- an industry that profits off of our suffering, and puts 95% of us at risk of medical bankruptcy should we experience a medical catastrophe.  Having achieved the first of our two goals, we are now poised to enact into law the 'Family and Business Healthcare Security Act.'"
By way of background, the "Family and Business Healthcare Security Act" will establish a healthcare policy of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by the following terms: publicly-funded, privately-provided, guaranteed, comprehensive, quality, affordable, healthcare for all of its citizens. 
Everybody in, nobody out. 
One risk pool. 
No more medical bankruptcies.  
The three Pennsylvanians who now die every day for lack of healthcare will now live.  And the thousands upon thousands who suffer in silence, as well as our 3.5 million neighbors who are either under- or uninsured, will be relieved of unnecessary pain, anxiety, and lost wages.  Oh, and the hospitals and doctors and medical students that are disappearing in alarming numbers?  Well, Civilized Healthcare for All will reverse these trends, while retaining, and attracting, businesses and workers who desperately want the monkey of healthcare insecurity off their back.
Our early economic projections indicate that the "Family and Business Healthcare Security Act" -- aka, the Single Payer Solution -- will save $15 billion over the current "multi-payer" system, and create over 100,000 medical delivery jobs.
The next step in our legislative campaign is to run the numbers -- to study precisely what will be the economic impact of the "Family and Business Healthcare Security Act" on Pennsylvania and its citizens.  So please, contact your State House and State Senate members right away.  Click on the following link:  Then set up a face-to-face meeting with your representatives, and follow up with a letter and/or phone call.  Ask them to sign on with the economic impact study (EIS) for the "Family and Business Healthcare Security Act" (i.e., House Bill 1660 and Senate Bill 300 from the previous legislative session).  For quickest action, the switchboard in Harrisburg is 717.787.2121.
Any questions?  Please write to me at  Or, depending on your region, call 717.295.0237 (Jerry); 412.343.3027 (Molly); or 215.300.5902 (Pedro).  If it's urgent, feel free to try me at 215.828.5055.
We won a big victory yesterday.  The tide is rising for the only proven solution to our broken healthcare system: the Single Payer Solution, aka Civilized Healthcare for All.
Let's go get it!  And remember to donate what you can ($10, $25, $50 or more) and to use and share our website resources far and wide.
Victory in 2009!
Chuck Pennacchio
 Independence Blue Cross-Highmark merger off
By Jane M. Von Bergen


Independence Blue Cross is withdrawing its request to merge with Highmark Inc. in Pittsburgh, according to sources on the Independence Blue Cross board and in Harrisburg.

The boards of Independence Blue Cross and Highmark met this morning and decided to withdraw their application. They will make a joint statement this afternoon.

Their decision comes days before the state's insurance department was set to render a decision on their merger.

That's because the decision, expected Jan. 28, was not likely to please the companies, sources said.

The decision would have allowed them to merge, but would require them to give up the right to use the popular "Blue Cross" trademark in selling health insurance.

Instead, they could use the "Blue Shield" trademark, opening the door for another insurance company to compete statewide using the "Blue Cross" trademark.

When that idea had been suggested during public hearings in July, executives from the companies were vociferously opposed. The merger would have created the largest health insurer in the state and among the largest in the nation.

Contact staff writer Jane M. Von Bergen at 215-854-2769 or

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Chuck Pennacchio, Ph.D., is a five-decade issue, electoral, and union organizer; president of the One Payer States network (; senior advisor to Healthcare for All Pennsylvania; co-founder of Our Revolution PA; founder of the Justice for All Network (; producer of the single-payer documentary "Fix It: Healthcare at the Tipping Point" ( (more...)

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