Rural Republican Caucus Public Hearing About Guaranteed healthcare For All/Single Payer In PA - Business

Healthcare for All Pennsylvania held a public hearing on HB 1660: the Family and Business Healthcare Security Act on 3/18/09 at the State Capitol Building in Harrisburg, PA.

Our audience was the Pennsylvania Rural Republican Healthcare Caucus, per invitation of caucus chair Representative Kerry Benninghoff, Republican of Centre County, Northern Pennsylvania.

The testifiers were Dr. Bill Davidson, (cardiologist), Alan Jacobs, (business leader), Janice Horn, (League Of Women Voters), Wes Fisher, (medical student), Chuch Pennacchio (Executive Director Of Healthcare PA), and me, Kate Loving Shenk, (Nurse Healer).

Everyone gave eloquent testimony and the Caucus was intensely interested, leaning forward, and listening and nodding.

Dr. Davidson said, "The American people need to send a clear message to our legislators. In order for people to speak with a clear voice, they must grow wise to the propaganda that has distracted and divided them in the past.

"For instance, is providing healthcare to everyone a Communist Plot or simply a good idea that appeals to everyone of good will?

"Do we understand that as in Canada, where most of the care is delivered by private physician, a single payer system here would give everyone their choice of privately practicing physicians in hospitals? "Do we allow the pharmaceutical industry to hold us hostage with exorbitant prices or do we group negotiate with them like the Veteran's Administration, who get medicines for 40% less?

"Do we accept the mantra that raising taxes is always a negative, or do we look at the bottom line that shows that after eliminating premiums, co-pays, deductibles etc, most of us will pay less that we do now?

"Do we accept the lies about waiting lines causing premature deaths in other countries or examine the facts that show that the medical outcomes in these countries are no worse than ours while their elderly live longer and their infants are healthier?

"Do we accept that the loss of a job means you lose your medical insurance and go bankrupt, and that often, we lose a job when we are sick and most in need of health insurance? Or do we provide a system like the rest of the industrialized world where employment is not connected to health insurance, and being stuck in a dead end job because of "health benefits" is not a reality nor was it ever considered a necessity?

"Do we accept the notion that the government can't do anything right including Medicare with a 3% overhead or stay with Blue Cross and Aetna with their 20% overhead, multimillion CEO's and pre-existing conditions?"

Dr. Davidson finished by saying that the medical insurance industry is hard at work to control the dialogue regarding healthcare reform in this country. Any discussion that leaves out Single Payer will also be leaving out middle America.

The choice is ours but the longer we delay, the more we suffer.

Medical student Wes Fisher is the regional director of AMSA, American Medical Association, which is an independent association for medical students in this country.

Amsa stands behind Guaranteed Healthcare For All. It has specifically supported a publicly funded, privately delivered healthcare delivery system.

A large number of medical students commuted to the State Pennsylvania Legislature twice in 2008 to rally and lobby for HB 1660 and SB 400.

Wes said he has accumulated a $300,000 debt. This debt combined with the infamous malpractice suit reputation in PA makes it easy for many if not most of our medical students to leave PA and take jobs elsewhere. The retention rate of medical students is quite low, around 7%.

Wes said he would happily stay in Pennsylvania with passage of HB 1660/SB 400, as would many if not all of his student colleagues, due to real tort reform already spelled out in the bill(s) and a system which provides healthcare including dental care to all.

My testimony included the many scenarios I have encountered over the years as a practicing RN and CRNP (Certified Nurse Practitioner).

One night I was working in a Trauma Unit, when a recently retired man came in after suffering from a major stroke when he stopped taking his blood pressure medicine.

He stopped taking it because his health insurance inexplicably dropped him due to a glitch in the system right after he retired.

I said to the nurses there, "Is this a rare event, people getting cut off health insurance after they retire?"

And they said, "It happens all the time."

I told this story to the caucus, as well as many other shockers.

I also told the caucus that this is not a political issue.

It is good for business.

It is good for the economy.

And it is the right thing to do.

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