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Hundreds Rally For PA Health Care Reform

June 11, 2009

Harrisburg, PA - Hundreds of Pennsylvanians, from doctors and nurses to labor and religious leaders, will rally at the state capitol today in support of 'single-payer health care, instead of the patchwork of private and public health insurance in place today.

In the view of Chuck Penacchio, executive director of Health Care for All Pennsylvanians, insurance companies are out to make big money. He says the savings that could be realized through a single-payer plan is reason enough for lawmakers to take a closer look at it.

"With the single-payer solution, we project that we could save $40 to $50 billion. That's saving 40 to 50 cents out of every healthcare dollar that is currently wasted and lost to this profit-centered industry."

Legislation in Harrisburg would institute a publicly-funded, privately-delivered health care system. Pennachio believes this would help eliminate wasteful spending, by educating Pennsylvanians to make healthier life choices and by allowing the state to make medication purchases in bulk.

Penacchio claims under the current system, insurance companies deny Pennsylvanians some of the medical treatment and procedures they need - and have paid for through insurance premiums - simply to maintain their profit margins.

"The medical underwriters predetermine the profit, so they make their profit before any healthcare service is actually paid for."

The state's insurance industry also tries to play a role in how doctors treat patients, he says, which has many physicians packing up and heading elsewhere.

"We've got medical students who, upon graduation here in Pennsylvania, are leaving the state at a clip of 93 percent. We're losing the very providers that we need for the medical health of the state of Pennsylvania."

Opponents to a single-payer solution say such a system could be mismanaged and become underfunded, leaving people who need healthcare, without. They also say it could drive insurance companies out of business, which means lost jobs and investments.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA