Corbett's 'snow joke' of a health care hearing

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Despite nine inches of snow closing the site of a hearing on Corbett's "Healthy PA" initiative, Department of Public Welfare Secretary Beverly Mackereth (right) plowed ahead, before a room that was often more than half empty, as dozens of speakers whose names were called did not respond.

OK, so neither rain nor snow  nor heat nor gloom of night stays the Post Office and its workers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. Everybody knows that. But did you know that a big snowstorm also doesn't stay the Corbett administration from moving ahead, when all else around is gloomy, with political hearings that might not be a lovefest for the governor's policies?

Consider the Corbett's "Healthy PA" initiative, the GOP governor's alternative to the federally funded expansion ot Medicaid for working poor people that's a part of Obamacare in 25 states that have jumped on board. Some critics on the left say the plan is too restrictive, has too many punitive measures and is happening too slowly, leaving as many as 500,000 Pennsylvanians uncovered for the next year. Some on the right believe "Healthy PA" is too generous. When his administration announced it would hold a public hearing on the plan in Philadelphia last Friday, a huge number of folks -- about 300 -- signed up to speak.

Then an uninvited guest crashed the party -- Mother Nature. When nine inches of snow blanketed the city Friday morning, most of Philadelphia -- schools, government offices, even the National Constitution Center, the site of the hearing -- closed down. But remarkably, Department of Public Welfare Secretary Beverly Mackereth plowed ahead with the hearing, before a room that was often more than half empty, as dozens of speakers whose names were called did not respond.

Now, some Democratic state lawmakers are pushing for a do-over. Yesterday, three Philadelphia state senators -- Vincent Hughes, Shirley Kitchen and Michael Stack --  and state Rep. Cherelle Parker wrote to Mackereth seeking a second hearing here. They wrote "it only seems appropriate that this community be given another chance to voice its thoughts about this potentially far-reaching proposal." There was no immediate response from the Corbett administration.

But having another hearing in nicer weather (in the uncertain event of Phladelphia ever again having nicer weather, ever again) seems like a no-brainer. If the only Philly airing of the Corbett health plan turns out to be this snow joke of a hearing, you'd almost get the crazy idea that the administration didn't want to hear from citizens in the first place.

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