by Damon Boughamer
Public Radio Capitol News, serving Pennsylvania
Harrisburg, Penna. (PRCN, 24 April 2007) – The most controversial component of Governor Rendell’s near-universal health care plan came under fire at a legislative hearing Tuesday.
The "Cover All Pennsylvanians" blueprint includes a three-percent payroll assessment for employers that don’t provide health insurance. The Rendell team calls it a "fair share tax."
At a joint Senate committee hearing, majority Republicans said they doubted the idea has enough support to pass.
Even if it does, they wondered whether a court would view it similarly to a Maryland plan that was ruled illegal.
Rosemarie Greco with the Governor’s Office of Health Care Reform said she’s confident.
"It was the opinion of our internal attorneys that the proposed legislation was so different, both in intent and in substance, from the statute addressed by the Fourth Circuit, that it could be successfully defended in a legal challenge based on ERISA preemption," Greco said.
Greco refers to ERISA. That’s a federal law that bans states from forcing employers to offer health insurance.