The LuLac Edition #1094, Feb. 11th, 2010
PHOTO INDEX: LUZERNE COUNTY COMMISSIONER JAMES B. POST WITH THE ENDORSED GOP TICKET FOR 1966, LOUISE RUSSELL SECRETARY OF STATE GOP, RAYMOND SHAFER, ENDORSED CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR, JOHN TABOR CANDIDATE FOR SECRETARY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS, WALTER ALLESANDRONI, CANDIDATE FOR LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR AND JUDGE HAROLD WATKINS CANDIDATE FOR SUPERIOR COURT, OUR 1966 LOGO AND STATE REPRESENTATIVE PHYLLIS MUNDY.
With the impending retirement of State Senator Robert Mellow, three candidates, Democrats Chris Phillips and insurance executive Joseph Albert and Republican Frank Scavo, a former Old Forge school director, have publicly said they plan to run. Three others, Lackawanna County Recorder of Deeds Evie Rafalko McNulty, former City Councilman Gary DiBileo and state Rep. Jim Wansacz, are considering running. One of the most interesting people being mentioned is long time former Democratic commissioner Joe Corcoran. Corcoran has one heck of a record to run on and might be very formidable. A battle between Doherty and Corcoran could be titantic in scope. Refalko McNulty is interesting too. The woman has a huge following and despite her loss for Commissioner in the ’07 primary she has name recognition and gender on her side if the field is crowded with alpha males. More to come on this race.
RENDELL A VISIONARY
Gov. Ed Rendell is proposing changes in the state's sales tax to address financial challenges awaiting Pennsylvanians in the two years after he leaves office. Rendell is looking at the long view and proposing a reduction of the state income tax but increasing it in its scope. He acknowledged that he has some work to do to convince lawmakers. In his budget message Rendell proposed applying the state sales tax to 74 items and services that are now exempt including candy, over-the-counter drugs, and accounting and legal services. Rendell proposes reducing the rate from 6 percent to 4 percent. His plan would maintain exemptions for food, clothing and prescription drugs as well as exemptions for machinery, supplies and materials used in manufacturing and farming. His administration figures the changes, if implemented by Sept. 1, would generate $531.5 million in 2010-11.
The governor proposed that this money plus that from other new taxes on tobacco products and natural gas drilling would go into a lockbox to help the state tackle two budgetary challenges: the looming spike in public employee retirement costs and next year's disappearance of at least $2.4 billion in federal stimulus funds. Rendell is recognizing that the stimulus money will go away and is making provisions for the state’s future. I’m sure Rendell will be opposed by the tea party people as well as the GOP in the state but he is making a lot of sense.
MUNDY AND HEALTH CARE
Long time State Representative Phyllis Mundy has some interesting thoughts on health care. From her web site, here are some excerpts:
Phyllis Mundy believes that working families deserve access to affordable health care. She also believes that steps must be taken immediately to reign in the costs of health care. And older Pennsylvanians on fixed incomes shouldn’t have to choose between paying their household bills and paying for medications they need. That’s why Mundy is fighting for lower health care and prescription costs and better patient safety.
A July 2004 study by Health Grades, Inc. concluded that little has been accomplished to improve medical error prevention and patient safety since the 1999 Institute of Medicine study over five years ago. According to the study, with no significant improvement over the last five years, we may have lost an additional 490,000 Americans due to our failure to improve patient safety. Medical errors are currently not recognized as a cause of death by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, however, if they were, medical errors would be ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
In an effort to respond to this continuing crisis, Mundy has introduced legislation to give a 20% discount in medical malpractice insurance to health care providers that implement a total quality management system. Total quality management systems, such as ISO 9000, which have been successfully implemented for years in private industry, are reducing medical errors and reducing health care costs in health care facilities in many parts of the nation.
Protecting Employees Who Report Medical Errors
The lack of reporting by employees in the medical field not only costs lives and preventable injuries, but results in increased costs in health care, litigation, and malpractice insurance rates. Phyllis has introduced legislation, entitled the Conscientious Employee Protection Act, to prohibit retaliation against conscientious employees who try to remedy improper quality of patient care. It also protects employees who provide information or testimony in an investigation conducted by a public body, and specifically protects a licensed or certified health care professional who provides information to any public body conducting an investigation. Also, this legislation protects an employee who objects to or refuses to participate in any activity which they believe to be in violation of the law.
Lower Health Care Costs
Mundy knows that in addition to protecting patients, we must begin to control the costs of the health care system. While this is a very complex problem for which there are no easy answers, Mundy is working on the state level to help control health care costs. Since the sunset of the Certificate of Need (CON) program in the mid 1990s, there has been no statutory requirement that health care facilities prove the need to buy expensive new equipment or that there is need in the community for these additional services. As a result, there has been an increase in the number of ambulatory surgical facilities, diagnostic imaging facilities and similar non-hospital health care facilities around the state. The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council believes this adds unnecessary cost to the health care system. Mundy has also been fighting for years to hold Pennsylvania’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield organizations accountable as they amassed millions of dollars in surplus at the same time they raised rates in the double digits every year and made charitable contributions with ratepayer money. Mundy achieved a victory against the Blues in February of 2005 when Commissioner Diane Koken placed a cap on the Blues’ surplus. As a result of Koken’s decision, Blue Cross of Northeastern PA will not be allowed to include a “risk and contingency factor” in future rate increase requests, i.e., they will not be allowed to build further surplus at subscriber expense. The decision also requires that if a Blues’ surplus exceeds the cap, the Blues will have to report to the Commissioner how it intends to spend down the excess surplus. In continuing the fight for lower health care premiums, Phyllis has reintroduce her legislation to limit the Blues surplus to three months of claims payments and require that any revenue above that level be used to lower rates.
A TAXING SITUATION
A fight between the majority Lackawanna County commissioners and Controller Ken McDowell over staffing cuts has brought renewed interest to a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by a former auditor who says Mr. McDowell fired her to "make room" for political supporters. In the suit filed in February 2008, former county audit supervisor Heather Delhagen claims she was fired for supporting former Controller John Mellow in his campaign against Mr. McDowell. Shortly after Mr. McDowell beat Mr. Mellow in the Democratic primary, Mr. Mellow directed Ms. Delhagen to audit the Single Tax Office. At the time, Mr. McDowell was the tax collector. Ms. Delhagen claims her civil rights were violated when she was sacked two hours after Mr. McDowell was sworn in as county controller. Also fired were deputy controller John Malos and office manager Michael Shumek. Ms. Delhagen and Mr. Shumek were unionized employees. While U.S. District Judge Thomas I. Vanaskie decides whether Ms. Delhagen's accusations against Mr. McDowell merit a jury trial, the controller's motivations have also been questioned.
WB AREA 6TH DISTRICT
Wilkes Barre's 6th District will hold a meeting this month. Here are the deailts: Start: Feb 23 2010 - 7:00pm
End: Feb 23 2010 - 9:00pm
Attention Sixth District Republican Committee Members!
Our next Committee Meeting will be held at:
Luzerne County Republican Headquarters41 South Main Street Wilkes-Barre, PA.
Date: Tuesday, February 23, 2010Time: 7:00 PM.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
Soviet writers Yuli Daniel and Andrei Sinyavsky are sentenced to 5 and 7 years, respectively, for 'anti-Soviet' writings.... The Belgian government resigns.........The State GOP meets and endorses its ticket. The State GOP, riding the popularity of outgoing Governor William Scranton endorses his second in command Raymond Shafer for Governor and Attorney General Walter Allesandroni for Ltn. Governor and in Luzerne County area dress factories are starting to make a recovery from revenue losses due to the New York Transit strike earlier in the year and 44 years ago this week in America and LuLac land the number one song was “Lightning Strikes” by Lou Christie.