Friday, March 27, 2015

A PA Push Against Obamacare

State and national Republicans go after Obamacare in a TV and a Senate vote; but what happens to the issue if the law is overturned?

A PA Push Against Obamacare

In an apparently coordinated attack on "Obamacare," state and national Republicans are blasting away at the controversial issue -- and the president's signature domestic inititative -- which is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Thursday, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus scheduled a Harrisburg news conference with GOP-endorsed Senate candidate Steve Welch (he's vying to be the nominee to challenge Democratic Sen. Bob Casey) and state Chamber of Business and Industry boss Gene Barr to "discuss" the negative impact of Obamacare.

The RNC also released a TV ad in Harrisburg called "Higher Cost" (you can watch it by hitting the replay sign in the lower left-hand corner of video box) that slams the president on health care.

Wednesday, the GOP-controlled state Senate passed, by a 29-19 vote, a measure to amend the state Constitution so that Pennsylvanians would not be required to buy health insurance under the federal law and be protected from any fines associated with the law.

Democrats called the action a waste of time and pure politics.

(Not that either party would ever waste time or play politics)

“This vote to strike down the individual mandate was completely unproductive and unnecessary, considering the federal law will ultimately override it,” said Philly Sen. Mike Stack.

“This was nothing more than political posturing," he said in a statement, "the Supreme Court and not the State of Pennsylvania will have the final say on the individual mandate."

Philly state Sen. Tony Williams called passage of the measure counterproductive.

"We didn’t improve the quality of life of one Pennsylvanian through this vote,” he said. “Thousands of Pennsylvanians are without a job and without health coverage. We as a commonwealth should do something positive for those vulnerable citizens. We should focus our priorities on those individuals and give them a hand up, rather than engage in a divisive issue that likely will not matter, since the federal law trumps state law.”

Since a Constitutional amendment requires passage in both chambers in two successive legislative sessions and approval through a statewide voter referendum, it's hard to take this GOP effort seriously.

The U.S. high court is expected to rule on the health care law in June. If the law's mandates are knocked down, the Senate action becomes moot. If they're not, then years from now we face a potential extended legal fight (if the Senate measure moves forward AND is approved by voters) over whether state or federal law applies to PA citizens.

Meanwhile, our legislators, our members of Congress and our judges enjoy the best health care coverage our money can buy.

It's enough to make one growl. As in GRRRR!



John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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