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PA on Track for Serious Health Care Reform

March 26, 2008

Harrisburg, PA – Health care reform in Pennsylvania is in the "waiting room" for a second opinion. The House has already said yes to low-cost coverage for working families and tax breaks to help small businesses afford coverage for their employees. Now it's up to the Senate to decide if the plan will be part of the cure for the health care crisis.

Roberta Yetman in Erie works full-time fitting prosthetic devices for cancer patients, and she has no health insurance. She also sees that many of her clients struggle to pay for the medical equipment they need.

"We have a growing problem, and I'm part of that problem. It has gotten to the point where I think we have to take a leap of faith, try this plan and see how it works."

The "Pennsylvania Access to Basic Care" plan doesn't offer free coverage. It would require families to pay monthly premiums. Their health insurance would be financed through a combination of those premiums, money from a state account surplus, new federal money and a 10-cent increase in the cigarette tax.

Phil Gross runs a small business in Central Pennsylvania. He had to drop his coverage because the out-of-pocket expenses were too much. He says normally he would be against state-sponsored insurance, but he has changed his mind after his health-coverage experiences.

"I feel really safe that I can participate for $250 a month. I just need to know that we'll get something for our money."

Opponents of the bill want to see more cost containment, and some are against raising any taxes to pay for coverage.

Deborah Smith/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - PA