Arlen Specter

Single Payer in High Gear in PA

The race is on in Pennsylvania because they are seriously talking about Single Payer Healthcare. And though they are moving to try to eliminate ERISA roadblocks to get there, some are prepared to challenge the laws even if the US Congress will not act:

My state is moving closer and closer to passing single payer, as this excellent history of recent developments in the statewide movement explains.

It had been a good year for Single-Payer in Pennsylvania already.
HealthCare4ALLPA, the organization leading the fight (full disclosure:
the author is an unpaid officer of that organization and an unpaid
member of the Board of Directors) to enact single-payer healthcare in
the Keystone State. Our Bill, HB 1660 and SB 400 was picking up steam
(one blogger, in describing the scope of the bill, observed "you will
never see a more comprehensive plan."), and had been endorsed by City
Councils in Lancaster, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Reading, West Reading,
and Wilkes Barre, as well as by the Allegheny County Council. Together
those councils represent more than 3 million people, about a quarter of
the population of Pennsylvania. A study of the cost of employee
healthcare benefits paid by the combined governments and school boards
within our state had documented a savings of nearly $2.3 billion
dollars if the bill werer passed, and the study was getting noticed.
Our quest for funds to commission an Economic Impact Study that would
validate the benefits of instituting our bill were beginning to bear
fruit. In October more than a thousand people -- primarily from all
over Pennsylvania, but augmented by advocates from Rhode Island, New
York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Delaware, Ohio and even
Washingtron State who journeyed to Harrisburg in a show of solidarity
-- gathered in the Capitol Rotunda on a Tuesday workday morning to
demonstrate for the passage of our bill.

As I wrote about here,
the bill for statewide single payer had a hearing late last year.  Not
only that, but the hearing was led by Republican State Senator Don
White, and that's not even the full extent of the bipartisan support of
this.  And Governor Ed Rendell has also pledged to sign the bill!  And
all five Democratic candidates for governor have expressed support of
the bill!  And both Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak have said that they
intend to introduce bills in Congress that would end ERISA and make it
much easier for states to establish single payer systems!

As far as the ERISA laws, here is a little more from a comment sent to Rossl, author of the diary excerpt above, by the author of the original OP Ed piece, Jerry Policoff, that is revving up single payer activists: