Thursday, December 24, 2009

Gerlach: Obamacare Bad For PA

Republican Jim Gerlach on Wednesday sent letters to Gov. Ed Rendell and the Commonwealth’s two senators, Robert P. Casey Jr. and Arlen Specter, urging them to stand up for Pennsylvania's families and businesses by opposing the health care bill Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is frantically pushing to a vote on Christmas Eve.
“This bill is bad for Pennsylvania," Gerlach said. "That's why I made one last appeal for commonsense to prevail and for the governor and our two senators to put Pennsylvania's interests ahead of partisanship. Majority Leader Reid spent this past weekend cutting deals to benefit Nebraska and other states at Pennsylvania’s expense. If enacted, this legislation would lead to higher taxes or significant cuts to services for Pennsylvania residents. The governor needs to speak out and our senators should not be rubber stamps for Harry Reid's severely flawed bill.”

Below is the text of the letter sent Wednesday morning:

The Honorable Ed Rendell
Governor, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
200 Main Capital Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120

U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter
7711 Hart Office Building
Washington DC 20510

U.S. Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr.
363 Russell Office Building
Washington D.C. 20510


I am writing to urge you to oppose the U.S. Senate health care bill due to the huge burden it would place on Pennsylvania families and employers and the fiscal peril it poses to the Commonwealth’s already-strained budget.

Chief among my concerns is the federal Medicaid mandates contained in Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid’s 2,000-plus pages that call for expanding Medicaid to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. The National Conference of State Legislators has estimated that this expansion would increase state Medicaid spending in Pennsylvania by approximately $2.2 billion over the next 10 years.

Asking Pennsylvania families and employers struggling to shoulder this huge, unfunded federal mandate would be bad enough in the midst of one of our nation’s greatest economic recessions. But to make matters worse, the Senate bill would force taxpayers in
Pennsylvania to underwrite an estimated $1.2 billion Medicaid bailout for Nebraska, Vermont and Massachusetts. This is an incredibly bad deal for Pennsylvanians who will either pay higher taxes or possibly see important state services significantly reduced.

In addition to the unfunded Medicaid mandate, the Senate bill would include a $2 billion per year tax on our Commonwealth’s thriving biotechnology and medical device manufacturing industries. Pennsylvania has approximately 600 medical device manufactures that employ roughly 20,000 people in jobs that often pay more than $50,000 per year. Executives at these companies have been very clear that this tax would hamper their ability to hire new workers and siphon money away from life-saving research and product development.

It is extremely disappointing that the Senate bill is laced with sweetheart deals and certainly appears aimed more toward scoring political points than making insurance affordable or improving the quality of health care in our Commonwealth. That’s why I am respectfully request that you oppose this severely-flawed legislation.

With kind regards, I am


Jim Gerlach
Member of Congress

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