Capitol Wire: Senate Banking and Insurance committee on health care

I continue to cover health reform here in the State Capitol for Capitol Wire, a service for which you don’t have a subscription, so I can only give you a taste.

HARRISBURG (June 19) – The estimated cost of the House-passed health care reform package could be highly inaccurate, testified one witness hired by the Senate GOP at the Senate Banking and Insurance committee hearing Wednesday.

“The rules aren’t the same as in other industries,” said Jack Burke, a principal and consulting actuary from Millman Inc., a consulting firm in Wayne retained by Senate Republicans to review cost estimates attributed to the health care plan.

His firm reviewed “Cover all Pennsylvanians,” an earlier proposal that has since been replaced by the Rendell-endorsed Pennsylvania Access to Basic Care plan, a package of health care reforms that would provide state-subsidized health insurance to nearly 273,000 uninsured residents at an estimated cost of $1.1 billion by the fifth year.

The pitfalls of any state-subsidized health care plan are possibilities, Burke said. If a younger, healthier pool of participants isn’t engaged, or mandated to purchase insurance, premiums could become costlier than anticipated. Additionally, because so many factors are involved in a program’s complex cost analysis, estimates could be grossly exaggerated, higher or lower, he said.

Pay to subscribe on Capitol Wire to read the rest.

Image courtesy of Penn Live, depicted Gov. Ed Rendell and Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario.

Number of Views:2491

King of Prussia: the child of Philadelphia tax structure

Your boy Tom Infield had an 1,800-word (not including sidebar) profile of King of Prussia – the 27,000-person outpost northwest of Philadelphia famed for the mall of the same name – for the Inquirer yesterday.

It is the prototype for suburban sprawl that is trying to remake itself into green(er)-friendly, small city life to retain a growing environmentally-conscious and urban drawn population who still might be concerned by the rampant crime of Philadelphia.

The thing is I don’t think any of the 60 online comments for the story came after having read the whole thing – I know mine didn’t.

Because, while Infield’s piece suggests King of Prussia was developed by the convergence of major roads at its doorstep – 202, 422, I-76, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike – it didn’t mention anything about Philadelphia’s aggressive tax structure.

This is something I read quite a deal about for my honors thesis, which focused on Philadelphia’s Republican Party. Indeed, I actually posted on this very topic back in January on the blog I made for the thesis.

Continue reading

Number of Views:4415

Capitol Wire: Pennsylvania House insurance committee hearing coverage

Who is covering insurance committee meetings!? I am! This a brief for Capitol Wire, an online-only, subscription service for state government, policy wonks. I won’t post most subscription stuff, but this is just so damn boring, I know it just doesn’t matter. And, fair use law has to include something so short.

By Christopher Wink | Jun 16, 2008 | Capitol Wire

HARRISBURG (June 16) The House Insurance committee passed a flurry of legislation in a meeting Tuesday.

All told, six bills were reported from committee, though only two were the subject of any debate.

Four were passed unanimously, including the following: bills 1824, which would funnel federal funding to community-based health providers; 2490, which would make a refusal to renew an insurance policy based on an adjacent property an unfair practice; 2580, which would require health insurance policies to reimburse services provided by licensed occupational therapists, and 2625, which is a companion to 1824 and would establish a system of assessment for community-based health care providers.

Bills 1122, which would create a health insurance consumer advocate, and 2642, which would limit some rate increases used by insurance providers, passed but received some Republican opposition.

Cartoon courtesy of Allen Brown Insurance Agency.

Number of Views:2733

Capitol Wire: Child safety task force

Before the pressures of writing for legislative-heavy, paid subscription state government, online service Capitol Wire fully got to me, I started yesterday by covering a task force meeting. Brief, but still managed to be frighteningly dull.

Again, it’s a paid subscription, so I won’t be able to post full stories, but get a taste below and then fork up the $1,000 or so to get the insight that I – and men smarter than I am – will provide for an entire year.

A hearing byline for Capitol Wire

A Joint State Government Commission Task Force on Child Safety will release its advisory committee report “as soon as possible,” one member said today.

The task force and its report, which includes 12 recommendations for the General Assembly, came at the behest of a House Resolution from June 2005, requesting ways to curtail preventable child injuries and deaths.

Its recommendations include legislation that would create a post within the Pennsylvania Department of Health to address consumer and constituent concerns with child safety, require annual reports on child safety, and increase staff charged with child safety issues.

Check out Image courtesy.

Number of Views:2003

Welcome to Capitol Wire, Christopher

This State Capitol post-graduate internship in Harrisburg has taught me plenty already. I spent my first two weeks working with a helluva state government reporter – more than a quarter decade in, and still happy with his life! – and did plenty for him and the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

But, the value of this internship – rotating through the state’s five largest newspapers – keeps me moving. So, today I started with the other participant in the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents’ Association internship program – Capitol Wire, an online-only, subscription service catering to legislators, lobbyists, state government journalists, advocates, watchdogs and Capitol policy wonks everywhere.

What that means is I am about to get an entirely different level of education on state government.

Because the dirty secret of general interest newspapers is that they are general interest, so readers don’t tend to have in-depth of knowledge on most of the subjects about which they read, so – believe it – the journalists writing on those subjects are rarely experts either.

So, I am trying to navigate my way through a 900-word, in-depth review of a major health insurance initiative by the Rendell administration. Wish me luck.

Image courtesy The Capitol.

Number of Views:4842

Dwight Evans owns the world

Very good story by Brad Bumsted – top notch State Capitol reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review – on Philadelphia’s own Dwight Evans.

Evans’ star rises to top of House

HARRISBURG — Over the past year, Rep. Dwight Evans has emerged as the most powerful member of the state House.

“Dwight Evans is the real powerhouse now in the (Democratic) caucus,” said G. Terry Madonna, a political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster.

As chairman of the Appropriations Committee, the affable Evans, 54, of Philadelphia is the fifth-ranking member on the depth chart of Democrats, who control the House by a one-vote margin.

Read the rest here.

We also learn that Evans loves Dancing with the Stars.

Image WHYY.

Number of Views:2829

Angry Journalist contribution

Of course you know the incredibly despondent Web site
Well, in order to not break the site’s rules of anonymity, I will just mention that I saw this post.
Angry Journalist #5095:

I am angry that an experienced journalist would have this conversation with a newly graduated intern:

Journalist: “I hate this place.”
Intern: Why do you stay?
Journalist: ”I don’t know what else to do.”

Photo courtesy.

Number of Views:4144

Academic honors during my Temple University career

Relevant academic honors

  • Honors Thesis, Two-Party Politics in Philadelphia, April 2008
  • Named among Top 100 young journalists in the country, UWire, May 2008
  • Commencement Speaker, Temple University’s 121st graduation, May 2008
  • First Place, Collegiate Keystone Press Award for Personality Profile, April 2008
  • Diamond Award, Temple University recognition for leadership, May 2008
  • Pi Sigma Alpha, political science honor society Delta Rho chapter, May 2008
  • Marks and Emma Kohn Memorial Award for excellence in social sciences, April 2008
  • Ted Von Ziekursch Scholarship for journalistic achievement, April 2008
  • Honors Department, Temple University entrant, July 2006
  • Diamond Award, Temple University recognition for student journalism, May 2006
  • Ralph Vigoda Collegiate Journalism Award, May 2006
  • First Place, Collegiate Keystone Press Award for Spot News, April 2006
  • Political Science Honors Department, Temple University entrant, April 2006
Number of Views:5625

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Dog kennel hearing

Coverage for today’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

HARRISBURG — Kennel owners told a House committee Thursday that a proposed overhaul of commercial dog laws in Pennsylvania would go too far.

“We don’t support a bill that makes it easy to criminalize largely law-abiding people,” said Rob Sexton, vice president of government affairs for the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, which includes members who raise hunting dogs.

Proposed criminal and civil penalties of up to $1,000 against violators are too steep, Sexton said.

“Treating all licensed kennels the same (with fines) would mean financial ruin to many, if not all, kennels.”

Read the rest on Pittsburgh Live. Image courtesy.

Number of Views:3610

About the most racist thing I've seen on TV

I tend to think white liberal guilt causes more use of the word “racist” than bigotry ever could. White self-labeled progressives are more likely to call Fox News peddlers of the extreme than anyone, I think.

But even I was stunned by the senseless blanketing of black America by the news channel.

Yeah, in discussing Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama’s wife Michelle, a producer referred to her as his “baby’s mama.” Of course using a phrase associated with low income, split families – a situation stereotyped as afflicting only blacks – to describe an educated, solidly upper middle class, married couple with degrees from Columbia, Harvard and Princeton universities is beyond insensitive and ignorant.

Hat tip to Whatever for a post on it and my sister for forwarding it.

Number of Views:4308