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Pennsylvania GOP Legislators Adopting Obamacare Tactics

PA GOP
Establishment Republicans like to point to the states with Republican governors and where Republicans control the legislature as laboratories for Republican alternatives to the national Democrats’ “government is the answer to everything” philosophy and Obama’s lawless and undemocratic government by executive order.

The problem is that while establishment Republicans out in the states talk a good game, when it comes to actually letting the market work – especially the health care and health insurance markets – they often end-up with the same kind of policies that Obama and the Democrats on Capitol Hill have adopted.

One of the more egregious examples of the results of this Big Government Republicanism has manifested itself in Pennsylvania and been documented by our friend Stephen DeMaura of Americans for Job Security.

In 2010 Republicans, with a lot of help from the Tea Party movement, elected a Republican Governor and Republican majorities in both houses of the Pennsylvania legislature. The GOP managed to hold those legislative majorities (despite Mitt Romney’s abysmal showing in the state in 2012) and now controls the Pennsylvania state Senate 27 to 23 and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives 110 to 92.

So market-based solutions to the State’s health care and health insurance policy challenges would be the preferred solution, right?

Wrong.

As De Maura documented in a two recent articles, legislation introduced by Pennsylvania Republican State Rep. Jim Christiana, R-Beaver (and which has the backing of liberal special interest groups who advocated in support of Obamacare we might add) takes the same unpopular “government is the answer to everything” approach that has made Obamacare such an economic and personal disaster for millions of Americans.

Briefly summarized, Republican State Rep. Jim Christiana’s legislation would kill market competition and limit affordable consumer choices by forcing two entities that offer both health insurance and healthcare into a contract. Not surprisingly, the legislation has the backing of the Service Employees International Union, which represents healthcare workers.

As DeMaura has written, the battle between the two private entities that have both for-profit and non-profit subsidiaries, Highmark Inc. and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, has generated news coverage in Pennsylvania and across the country.

Highmark is western Pennsylvania’s largest health insurer, and they have also recently acquired a network of struggling hospitals. UPMC, as it's known locally, is the region’s largest health network. They are also an insurance provider.

At the heart of the dispute is Highmark’s decision to acquire West Penn Allegheny Health System, a direct competitor of UPMC. As a result of Highmark’s decision, UPMC chose to not renew a decade-long contract. 

But State Representative Jim Christina isn’t a single Big Government outlier in Pennsylvania’s State House. This week, state Senator. Randy Vulakovich, R-Shaler Township, introduced a similar bill in the Pennsylvania state senate.

Now here’s the real issue from our perspective – despite this matter being a disagreement between two private entities – Republican state legislators have decided to intervene.

That’s right; Republicans – the alleged party of the free market – are proposing to legislate a contract between two private corporations.

The thinking behind that decision is apparently the dangerous notion that non-profits should be viewed as an extension of the government.  This is exactly the sort of “government knows best” philosophy held by Big Government liberals, not Republicans.

Pennsylvanians aren’t the only ones who should be concerned about this. 

We typically think of Republican legislators as the last line of defense against these Big Government schemes. The decision of Christina and Vulakovich to interject themselves into the debate is, as Stephen DeMaura put it, “entering into unprecedented territory, leading to serious implications for the rest of the country if other legislators take similar steps. It could also set the stage for one large insurer to continue dominating the market, further threatening all hospitals in Pennsylvania.“

DeMaura is right; the suggestion that partial non-profits in Pennsylvania should be forced into a contract is not only anti-free market, if establishment Republican state legislators across the country adopt this kind of “government is the answer to everything” thinking it portends a slippery slope for future progressive Republican schemes involving government intervention, and not just limited to health care and health insurance.

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GOP Establishment Too Much Like DNC Lite

I have to agree that the establishment of my Republican Party had become far too much of a clone to the DNC in various ways, especially in the fiscal issues such as the "tax" that is Obama-non-Care and that has got to stop if we hope to see both the party and the nation saved from the ash heap of history. It is the T.E.A. Party Republicans who closely reflect the expressed will of We the People,which was not to merely amend the socialized health care disaster but rather to fully REPEAL that threat to both our economy and our survival. Ted Cruz for President in 2016, to the rescuing of America!