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    Health workers stage a protest play

    Members of the Service Employees International Union Healthcare Pennsylvania rallied in Harrisburg Friday casting insurance companies as villains in the health overhaul debate.

    Members of the Service Employees International Union Healthcare Pennsylvania rallied in Harrisburg Friday casting insurance companies as villains in the health overhaul debate.

    The rally began with battle of giant papier-mache puppets: A large-toothed shark dubbed “Corporate Greed” attacked an already battered and bruised “Healthcare Reform” puppet. During the mock scuffle, SEIU protesters rushed in to beat back the shark, then the “Health Reform” puppet was whisked away in a van decorated to look like an ambulance.

    Protesters marched from the Capitol to the headquarters of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. Union organizers say Chamber members – including the state’s largest health insurance companies – are spending millions to block a remake of the health industry.

    Gene Barr leads government affairs for the chamber. He says small and medium-sized business are among the hardest hit by skyrocketing health costs, so the chamber began lobbying for health industry changes years ago.

    Barr: Businesses don’t not offer health insurance because they hate their workers, they don’t offer health insurance because they flat out can’t afford it.

    The chamber favors reforms that would change the medical malpractice laws and discourage “defensive medicine.” Barr also wants fewer insurance industry mandates.

    Barr: The government is too prescriptive about what benefits health insurance companies have to offer.

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