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Report: Healthcare Key To Healthy PA Economy

February 24, 2009

Philadelphia, PA - Health care insurance costs in Pennsylvania are breaking the backs of businesses and families, according to a new report by Health Care For America Now. The organization's state director, Mark Stier, says the Pennsylvania economy cannot recover until the cost of health care is addressed.

"Now that we've taken the first steps toward economic recovery with the economic stimulus package, the next step is to fix our broken health-care system."

From 2000 to 2007, the health insurance premiums that families and businesses in Pennsylvania paid increased by more than 86 percent, Stier says, while in the same period, median earnings only increased by a little more than 13 percent. The answer is a public insurance plan that would be offered as an alternative to more heavily regulated private insurance, Stier contends. Opponents of the plan say it will lead to tax hikes and poor care.

Even with many businesses picking up a portion of the premium, Stier says the cost of health insurance for Pennsylvania families is busting the budget.

"The median yearly wage in 2007 in Pennsylvania was only $28,000, but the average health-care premium for a family is $12,000. How can most people afford that?"

Stier says the answer is a dual system that features competition as a way to drive costs down.

"If Americans have a choice, and if public and private insurance compete with one another, we'll get health-care costs under control."

More information is available at www.hcanpa.org.

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - PA