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Rendell's universal health bill introduced in Pennsylvania

 David Wenner/The Patriot-News March 19, 2007 

A 96-page bill containing Gov. Ed Rendell's universal health care plan was introduced in the state House yesterday. A statewide series of public hearings begins at 11 a.m. Monday in Room 140 in the Capitol.

Rendell wants to use a state-subsidized health insurance plan to help cover the uninsured. It would be funded, in part, with a 3 percent payroll tax. The tax would rise to 3.5 percent in 2010-11, according to the bill introduced by state Rep. Todd Eachus, D-Luzerne.

Businesses that provide health insurance would qualify for a tax credit that would exempt them from paying the tax. Those that don't provide coverage would pay the tax quarterly.

The bill doesn't specify exactly what type of coverage a business would have to provide to avoid paying the tax. The standard will be tied to out-of-pocket costs paid by employees and the percentage of employees that enroll in the coverage.

Exact thresholds will be decided by the state Department of Labor and Industry and the Insurance Department, said Ann Torregrossa, a senior health policy manager for Rendell.

Rendell's plan also calls for reducing financial waste in health care, which he says amounts to about $7.5 billion per year.

Republican leaders are wary of various aspects of the plan, particularly the state-subsidized insurance program. They prefer a "consumer-driven" approach involving things such as health savings accounts.

You may want to read: Why So Many Folks are Retiring in Pennsylvania,

Retirement Housing on a ShoestringMedicare


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