The state Senate has left Harrisburg and will not vote on any more legislation this year, dashing Governor Rendell’s hopes of expanding state insurance coverage to more Pennsylvanians. WHYY’s Jen Rehill reports.
By Jen Rehill
The state Senate has left Harrisburg and will not vote on any more legislation this year, dashing Governor Rendell’s hopes of expanding state insurance coverage to more Pennsylvanians. After months of negotiations, Rendell blamed Republican lawmakers for the defeat.
Rendell: It seems to me that the only explanation is that this was mean-spirited conduct by people who did not want to see action taken on what is the most fundamental challenge for most people.
But Republican Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi says it was about the money.
Pileggi: I think and our caucus believes, and I don’t think it’s just in our caucus, that it would be irresponsible for us to announce a new program where the state is now facing a $2 to $3 Billion dollar deficit in this year alone that would be predicated on funding sources that are a gamble at best.
Democratic Governor Rendell disputed their complaint that it would cost too much.
Rendell: It would have no impact on the operating budget and it would require no additional taxes. None.
Senate Republican Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi disagrees.
Pileggi: The funding sources are funding sources that we do not think we can rely on include the community health reinvestment dollars which provide in the five year window $230 million of the governor’s projected funding.
Pileggi says that agreement expires in 2010, just two-and-a-half years into the governor’s plan. The state Senate will not hold another voting session this year, but Pileggi says his caucus is willing to take up negotiations again in 2009.
Previous coverage on this story:
PA Legislature does health reform in small pieces
Kerry Gren’s report Race to pass PA insurance bills (9/24/08)
Jen Rehill’s report from Harrisburg Health insurance bill continues to meet resistance in PA State Senate (9/17/2008)
Peter Crimmins’ report Doctors pushing stalled PA “Health Care for All” bill (9/17/2008)
Kerry Grens’ report Lawmakers to act on health insurance (9/4/2008)