July 13, 2007
Perhaps overstating his case, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell claimed that Jesus, Moses and Muhammad would back his plan for universal health care. Unfortunately, he couldn't get the mortals in the state legislature to go along, says the Wall Street Journal.
Under Gov. Rendell's defeated -- or at least deferred -- plan:
- The 767,000 or so who are uninsured would be covered using a restrictive "pay or play" scheme in which businesses that didn't, or couldn't afford to, provide health insurance to their employees would get dinged with a 3 percent payroll tax.
- In addition, he proposed expanding enrollment in Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program, particularly enlarging the latter, to make every child eligible for insurance subsidies regardless of family income.
State Republicans noted the shortcomings of the program. For instance:
- Since about 7 of 10 uninsured Pennsylvanians are employed, the payroll tax would shift most of the costs of a universal program onto business.
- Further, more than 50 percent of the uninsured are self-employed or work for small businesses, so the potential $1.9 billion per year that the plan would cost them drained away much of its Democratic support.
In addition, Republicans pointed out that Gov. Rendell's plan did nothing to address such cost increases as medical liability or mandated insurance benefits. It would probably make the problem worse with regulations like guaranteed issue (so wait until you're sick to buy insurance) and premium price controls.
Republicans offered an alternative consumer-driven plan, focusing on health savings accounts and a health-care tax credit, so the choice wasn't only Gov. Rendell or the status quo, says the Journal.
Source: Editorial, "Wrong Prescription," Wall Street Journal, July 13, 2007.
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