'More taxes, more government involvement' is the liberal mantra for whatever ails us when it comes to folks like Ed Rendell and Hillary Clinton.
The number of American adults without health insurance has jumped by 2 million, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Almost 44 million Americans — equal to the combined population of 24 states — are listed as uninsured in 2006, a 6 percent jump from the previous year.
There are few things that Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell and I agree on. The fact that Pennsylvania has too many residents without health insurance coverage is one of them.
Between 750,000 and 900,000 Pennsylvania adults are uninsured. They are part of the growing tide of working men and women who do not have health coverage.
Rendell's answer for the uninsured is predictable: Raise somebody's taxes and get the government more involved in running health insurance programs.
"More taxes, more government involvement" is the liberal mantra for whatever ails us when it comes to folks like Ed Rendell and Hillary Clinton.
The key ingredient in Rendell's "Prescription for Pennsylvania" is to impose a tax on employers who don't provide health coverage for workers.
The problem with raising taxes on employers is that it will force some of them out of business because they can't afford to insure workers. That will put more workers in the ranks of the uninsured. Tax-and-spend liberals like Rendell never think through their knee-jerk "solutions" to problems.
Inexplicably, Rendell waited until his fifth year in office before addressing the problem of uninsured workers. Didn't these people need health coverage in the first four years of Rendell's tenure?
Rendell has been unwilling so far to address other factors that contribute to the uninsured such as malpractice rates, insurance fraud, bureaucratic waste and tort reform.
Rendell's Insurance Department might as well be a PR/Marketing wing for the big insurance lobby in Pennsylvania. (Didn't Rendell's insurance secretary just take a job with the insurance industry?)
Instead of looking out for Pennsylvania consumers, Rendell's Insurance Department has been a little too cozy with big insurance and has looked the other way while insurance companies have raised their rates astronomically.
And nobody has been able to provide a satisfactory explanation of how non-profit insurance carriers in the state are sitting on billions of dollars in profits. Sounds to me that the Blues are charging way too much for premiums and not paying out enough in claims.
Rendell has failed to support legislation that would help small businesses struggling with the high cost of providing health insurance coverage for their workers.
Bills introduced by state Sen. Rob Wonderling and state Rep. Curt Schroder would go a long way to helping hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians who don't have health insurance. Rendell has failed to support these common-sense bills.
And unlike Dr. Rendell's prescription for solving the health insurance problem (getting government more involved in medicine), the Wonderling and Schroder bills would not cost taxpayers a thing.
The bills would simply level the playing field in Pennsylvania by regulating "for-profit" insurance companies. Pennsylvania is one of only two states that do not regulate "for-profit" insurance companies. That means these firms can "cherry-pick" who they want to cover and raise their rates 30 to 50 percent a year if they feel like it.
That's exactly what's been happening in Pennsylvania during Rendell's watch.
The Wonderling and Schroder bills have received bipartisan support by senators and representatives, but have been languished in Senate and House committee because the insurance industry doesn't want the bills to see the light of day.
The bills would bring "for-profit" insurance companies under the same regulations as "non-profit" agencies such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield and HMOs.
It would level the playing field and provide access to health insurance for thousands of Pennsylvania workers. Under the current system, "for-profit" insurance companies deny coverage to workers with pre-existing conditions or drop them for no reason. They can also charge whatever they want for premiums and raise those premiums 10 or 20 times the rate of inflation.
That has forced small employers — the backbone of Pennsylvania's economy — to pass on health care costs to their workers and their families or drop health coverage entirely.
The health crisis in this country is enormous. It's easy to throw your hands up and give up because it's such a hurdle to climb.
But when there's an opportunity to help people, even a little bit, we have to take it. Pennsylvania has an opportunity to provide immiediate relief to the uninsured by regulating "for-profit" insurance companies.
Tony Phyrillas is a leading conservative political columnist and blogger based in Pennsylvania. He is a veteran journalist with 25 years experience as a reporter, editor and columnist for several newspapers. Phyrillas received recognition for column writing in 2010 from the Associated Press Managing Editors, in 2007 from Suburban Newspapers of America and in 2006 from the Society of Professional Journalists, Keystone Chapter. A graduate of Penn State University, Phyrillas is the city editor and political columnist for The Mercury, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper in Pottstown, Pa. In addition to The Mercury website (www.pottsmerc.com), his columns are featured on more than a dozen political websites and blogs. Phyrillas is a frequent guest (and occasional host) on talk radio and has been a panelist on the "Journalists Roundtable" public affairs TV program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). Phyrillas was named one of the '10 Leading Greek-American Bloggers in the World' in 2007 by Odyssey: The World of Greece magazine. BlogNetNews.com ranked Phyrillas the Most Influential Political Blogger in Pennsylvania for three consecutive years (2007-2010). You can follow Phyrillas on Twitter @TonyPhyrillas