The Pennsylvania State House has been debating HB 1, which would expand the state's Adult Basic program, to make more individuals eligible for government health care. The Commonwealth Foundation has not said much about the bill, for a couple reasons:
- It isn't going anywhere - the legislation couldn't pass in previous years, when Pennsylvania had a surplus. Now, with a deficit likely to exceed $3 billion, I see no way the legislature will pass a quasi-entitlement.
- It isn't substantially different than previous editions, which we critiqued - the original "Cover All Pennsylvanians" (aka RendellCare 1.0), and last session's PA ABC.
More importantly, the legislation includes a provision to charge a 2% gross receipts tax on insurance premiums. This appears to be a tax only on plans not currently being taxed, i.e. HMOs and some PPO plans (though that hasn't been entirely clear), but effect should be pretty clear: this will make health insurance more expensive.
If you are wondering, given all this, how HB 1 even got to the House floor, John Micek sums it up, noting that the House adopted new rules on June 1, and were able to go back to some of their old tricks, before the 2007 rules reforms.