PAPA Update

Member Group : Patients and Physicians Association

Rep. Josh Shapiro Responds to PAPA’s Newsletter

• Rep. Shapiro’s Response

In our last newletter, we indicated State Representative Josh Shapiro (D-153) voted against his own legislation. We wrote, " State Representative Josh Shapiro (D-153) voted against his own legislation when he cast a no vote against a resolution sponsored by Representative Tom Killion (R-168). The resolution would have brought his own physician student loan forgiveness to the House floor. Shapiro’s "no vote" was also a vote against restoring the Mcare abatement."

P.A.P.A.’s attempts to contact Rep. Shapiro before publishing the last newsletter were not successful. Nonetheless, we are grateful for the Representative’s detailed response following our last newsletter, which we believe demonstrates his commitment to the medical community.
Although we have disagreed with legislation Rep. Shapiro sponsored aimed toward keeping doctors in Pennsylvania, we continue to applaud him for recognizing Pennsylvania has a serious problem in retaining physicians. He has stood up and done what he thought was best to fix the situation in spite of Governor Rendell’s claims Pennsylvania has no such crisis.
Most importantly, our last newsletter indicated Rep. Shapiro voted against his own student loan forgiveness bill. That information was incorrect. An outside researcher incorrectly provided us with Rep. Shapiro’s HB 1093 instead of HB 1973. We regret the error.

• Rep. Shapiro’s Response

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The following response is a summarized version, edited for space.
First, as you know, I am a strong friend of the medical community. I have crossed party lines in the past to vote for tort reform-a very difficult vote on many levels. Locally, I have secured nearly $2 million in state grants to the hospitals to support efforts by the local medical community to better care for patients, including, most recently, $400,000 to AMH’s maternity ward to help with its added delivery load as a result of the closure of local maternity wards. Additionally, I have been a strong advocate, as a member of the Appropriations Committee, for statewide hospital funding and health programs.
Second, I am a strong supporter of the MCARE abatement. I sponsored the legislation to provide a one year abatement and worked with legislative leaders and the governor’s staff to add a 10 year abatement and phase-out of MCARE in the House- passed comprehensive health care bill, which also included coverage for the uninsured. The Senate refused to even consider the House-passed bill that contained the 10 year abatement and phase-out. The Governor made it clear that he would not sign any abatement without including some level of additional coverage for the uninsured. I sent letters to the Governor and legislative leaders urging them to provide a temporary abatement until we could all agree on how best to cover the uninsured.
Third, the votes I cast on the MCARE abatement on October 7 referenced in the blast email from PAPA are mischaracterized.
Here are the facts about the October 7 votes:
The House Republican caucus sought to make a political issue out of the MCARE abatement by using procedural tactics to debate the issue that had no chance of becoming law in this session. It had no chance of becoming law for two reasons: (1) there was not enough legislative days between the House and Senate to consider the bill and its 37 amendments and send it to the Governor; and, (2) even if the bill made it to the Governor’s desk, he would have certainly vetoed the bill.
The House had three procedural votes related to the MCARE abatement (HB 1973). There was never a vote on the substance of the legislation.
First, there was a motion to appeal the ruling of the speaker on a ruling he made related to consideration of HB 1973. I voted to uphold the ruling of the chair because I thought he ruled correctly. I have voted this way 100 percent of the time when his rulings have been challenged by the minority party.
Second, a motion was made to discharge the Appropriations committee of its ability to consider HB 1973. As a member of that committee, I did not support this procedural tactic. Again, throughout the past session, I have voted 100 percent of the time against discharge resolutions-regardless of the issue at hand. While permitted under the House rules, it was being done, I believe, for political purposes and I did not want to support that effort.
Third, the House was asked by a member to suspend the rules for the immediate consideration of HB 1973. As the co-chair of the Speakers’ Commission on Legislative Reform and a vigorous defender of the House rules and procedures, I often oppose suspending the rules, unless it is for a non- controversial matters.
Even after these procedural votes, if the House were able to consider the MCARE bill on October 7 , again, there was not enough time in the session to consider the bill and its 37 amendments.

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