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PRSRT STD

Rep. Matt Baker


U.S. POSTAGE
PAID
HARRISBURG, PA
PERMIT NO. 529

SPRING 2010

ECRWSS
POSTAL CUSTOMER

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Mark Yoor the Friday, June 11 I am hosting the event with the Elder
sf
Calendar Services Work Group of the Tioga Coun-

0 1 0 S e n ior 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. ty Partnership for Community Health.


2
Expo!
Admission is free. For more information,
Wellsboro Area High School contact my district offices.

The Health Care Debate Continues in Washington and Pennsylvania


Dominating the news in recent months is President Barack currently being discussed in Washington, D.C., would cost
Obama’s proposed government-run health care system. Ap- the Commonwealth more than $1 billion. With Pennsylvania
parently, as more information is made public about the plan, already facing a multi-million dollar budget deficit this year,
more and more citizens are becoming outraged. In fact, in the ramifications of such an additional financial burden would
Massachusetts (an overwhelmingly Democratic state) the be staggering.
citizenry elected a Republican senator for the first time in more On Jan. 27 at the Capi-
than three decades after he campaigned on strong opposition tol in Harrisburg, I hosted
to the Obama health care plan. a rally where we heard
Clearly, more and more people across the country are ex- from other state legisla-
pressing their concerns about a government-run health care tors, a Pennsylvania con-
plan, and what that would mean in terms of cost, access and gressman, a doctor and a
quality of the health care they could receive. Massachusetts woman who experienced
adopted a health care plan, which the Obama administration a government-run health
included as some of its main principles, and after severely care system while living
straining the state’s budget and having insurance premiums in the United Kingdom.
increase by 8 percent to 12 percent in a single year, the people All of these people have
chose a new senator who would speak loud and clear in Wash- expressed a strong desire Rep. Matt Baker speaks at a rally
ington, D.C., against a similar nationwide health care plan. to stay out of a universal promoting his Health Care Freedom
In an effort to protect the rights of the citizens of Pennsyl- federal health care plan Act legislation, which would preserve
vania, I have introduced House Bill 2053, the “Health Care and to prevent the state of the patient-doctor relationship and
Freedom Act,” which would protect your right to access private Pennsylvania from enact- their health care decision-making
process.
medical care, and prohibit government from penalizing you for ing similar mandates.
not purchasing bureaucrat-approved insurance. My legisla- With the introduction of House Bill 2053, Pennsylvania
tion would work to preserve the patient-doctor relationship as joins more than 35 other states that have either introduced
well as individual rights to not take part in a government-run or announced legislation to block state or federal health care
health care plan. However, my legislation would still allow mandates.
individuals to participate in a universal health care plan if they The Health Care Freedom Act is just one of several health
so chose. care measures developed by the House Republican Policy
House Bill 2053 provides choice, not mandates. By re- Committee’s Health Care Task Force, of which I am a mem-
quiring individuals and employers to take part in a universal, ber.
single-payer health care system, we are harming patients and In Pennsylvania, we are fortunate that 92 percent of the
threatening our fragile economy. The Obama administration population has access to health insurance, through employer-
wants to establish a mandatory, government-run health care paid benefits or government services such as Medicare,
system that will take medical decisions out of the hands of doc- Medicaid, CHIP or adultBasic. However, we are continuing to
tors and patients and put them in the hands of bureaucrats. look for ways to reach the other 8 percent and provide them
A federally mandated health care system would erode the with affordable, quality health care as well.
quality of health care in America, and it would also place an For information on alternative health care reforms and solu-
enormous financial cost on a citizenry still coping with a reces- tions developed by the House Republican Policy Committee’s
sion. In fact, it is estimated that the federal health care plan Health Care Task Force, go to healthcareforpafamilies.com.
Pennsylvania Health Care Reform Options
As chairman of adultBasic Retool: Allows more errors and greater efficiency.
the House Health Pennsylvanians access to the adult- -Provides better quality health care
and Human Services Basic program by establishing a slid- services
Committee, I think it is ing scale premium based on income -Provides seamless access to
important to provide and requires the Department to verify medical records
you with information eligibility every six months.
on reforms that have been introduced -Removes barriers for eligible *Health Care Freedom Act: Pre-
in the House to help improve the adults to enroll in adultBasic serves the freedoms of individuals to
health care system in Pennsylvania. -Helps to lower the cost of care by purchase private health care insurance
The following proposals have been decreasing emergency room use and choose their own health care.
developed by the House Republican
Policy Committee’s Health Care Task Expansion of Federally Qualified *Affordable Health Insurance Act:
Force, of which I am also a member: Health Centers: Invests $25 million for Provides a tax credit for the purchase
the expansion of Federally Qualified of more affordable Health Savings Ac-
PA BasicCare: Provides an afford- Health Centers, hospital-based clinics count (HSA) eligible policies.
able, low-cost insurance product. etc. to increase access to primary and -Targets the segments of the unin-
-Offers an affordable coverage op- prenatal care. sured population who need and can
tion in the private insurance market -Provides a medical and dental afford insurance but choose not to
for individuals and employers with no home purchase coverage.
waiting list or deductible. -Increases access to primary health -Permits flexible rewards for healthy
care lifestyles, eliminates unnecessary
Individual Tax Credits: Provides a -Helps to lower the cost of care by state and local premium taxes and
$1,000 tax credit to individuals whose decreasing emergency room use allows for more flexibility in plan de-
employer does not provide health signs.
insurance coverage if they purchase Dental Provider Incentive: Improves
their own health insurance coverage. dental access for Medical Assistance *Health Insurance Purchase from
(MA) patients by establishing a con- Out of State: Would allow the un-
Employer Tax Credits: Provides tax tracted annual supplemental salary to insured to access different carriers
credits to small businesses with 50 recent dental graduates, who dedicate and more choices by allowing other
employees or less who provide health a certain portion of their practice to states to sell their plans within the
insurance coverage. serving MA clients. Commonwealth. This will enable
-Encourages employers to provide -Brings dentists into communities Pennsylvania’s uninsured to custom-
health care for their employees with a need ize and purchase the benefit package
-Prevents crowd-out, whereby -Provides incentives to students that best suits their needs.
employers stop providing health insur- who pursue higher education and
ance to employees training in dentistry *Health Commissioner Study of
-Establishes quality oral health Insurance: The Pennsylvania Health
Disease Management Tax Credits: care services across PA and improves Commissioner, upon conducting a re-
Provides per employee tax credit for health care to MA patients view, will report to the General Assem-
employers with fewer than 50 em- bly on what changes to Pennsylvania
ployees who offer health care policies *Allied Health Professional Loan law and regulation would be neces-
which include “disease management” Forgiveness: Establishes the Physi- sary in order to enable consumers in
protocols. cian Loan Retention Forgiveness the Commonwealth to purchase out-
-Encourages consumers to have a Program whereby allied health profes- of-state health products, along with a
stake in their health care sionals who complete training in the proposed timeline for implementation
-Lowers costs by reducing hospital Commonwealth and agree to practice of such changes.
use medicine in medically underserved
areas will receive a portion of their For more information on these and
Cost Transparency: Re-enacts the school loan paid for by the Common- other reforms created through the
PA Health Care Cost Containment wealth. House Republican Policy Committee’s
Council and requires them to publish -Encourages allied health profes- Health Care Task Force, visit health-
health care costs. Requires medical sionals who graduate to stay in the careforpafamilies.com.
charges and reimbursement rates for Commonwealth
Medicaid, CHIP and adultBasic to be -Provides medical care in needed *These legislative initiatives have been
posted electronically. areas authored by Rep. Matt Baker, Republican
-Allows consumers to make in- chairman of the House Health and Human
formed decisions regarding their Health Information Technology: Services Committee.
health care Proposes a public/private partnership
-Keeps the market competitive to share costs of bringing technology
-Reigns in the cost of health care online for the prevention of medical

FO R M O R E I N F O R M AT I O N , VI SI T M E O N L I
Governor Delivers Annual Budget Address Expansion of Gaming
On Feb. 9, Gov. Ed Rendell gave his annual budget address to Industry Wrong Move for
a joint session of the House and Senate, at which time he proposed Pennsylvania
increasing government spending by $1.2 billion.
With the economy continuing to lag and the governor continuing to As you are probably aware, Pennsylva-
request more spending, it looks like we are in for another extremely nia recently adopted a law to allow table
difficult year. As of the end of January, Pennsylvania was $374 million games at slots parlors. I voted against this
behind projections for revenue collections, and January marked the expansion of gambling for several reasons,
21st consecutive month the state has failed to meet these revenue including moral grounds, the social ills that
projections. follow the gambling industry, the lack of
Compounding our economic troubles are empty state savings needed reforms to the original gaming law,
accounts, like the Rainy Day Fund; federal stimulus funds that are and the broken promise of using gaming
set to expire at the end of next year; a looming spike in the employer revenue for property tax relief.
contribution of the public pension system; and predictions the state Since casinos have been established
will end the fiscal year with a significant budget gap. in Pennsylvania, more than 1,200 people
Now, even with all the financial problems our Commonwealth faces, have voluntarily put themselves on a list
the governor is requesting an increase in state spending by 4 percent. asking casinos not to let them gamble in
I believe it is fiscally irresponsible to further increase spending when their establishments. This demonstrates
we will end the current year with a deficit. the clear harm gambling addiction is hav-
Following is a breakdown of the priorities the governor outlined ing on many families across Pennsylvania.
during his budget address: Although no studies have been done yet in
Pennsylvania, we have seen a rise in other
Spending: The governor has proposed a $1.2 billion increase in states of bankruptcy, suicides, crime and
spending using $26.27 billion in state dollars and $2.76 billion in fed- divorce following the introduction of gam-
eral stimulus funds. It is important to note that $800 million of these bling establishments. This is not something
federal funds have not yet been approved. I think benefits our state, and I have been
opposed to legalize gambling since 2004,
Sales Tax Expansion: The governor is proposing a reduction of when I voted against the original gambling
the sales tax rate from 6 percent to 4 percent, but would expand the law to legalize slot machines.
tax to cover 74 items and services that are currently exempt. This However, it is also worth noting that
expansion would not apply to food, clothing or prescription medication. when slots parlors were legalized in 2004,
However, it would include taxing home heating fuels, water and sewer it was with the promise of property tax relief.
services, death care services, personal hygiene products and non- Not only have we not seen meaningful prop-
prescription drugs. The extra revenue raised from this tax would be erty tax relief from slots, but this legislation
set aside in a reserve account called the Stimulus Transition Reserve does not allocate a dime of table games
Fund to help offset the future termination of stimulus funds. money to the Property Tax Relief Fund until
the Rainy Day Fund reaches a threshold of
Basic Education: The governor is calling for 7.28 percent increase $750 million. As our Rainy Day Fund has a
in basic education funding. Most school districts in Tioga and Bradford zero balance today, it will likely be a decade
counties would potentially have a 2 percent to 4.5 percent increase in or more until homeowners see any financial
funding. I will continue my calls for a fairer distribution of education benefit from table games.
dollars in an effort to prevent further skyrocketing property taxes. Along with these disappointments, I was
also concerned by the lack of important
Budget Cuts: The governor is calling for reductions to the budgets and necessary gaming reforms in the table
of the Department of Environmental Protection ($3.8 million cut), the games legislation. Some of the issues
Department of Health ($7 million cut), the Department of Agriculture needing to be addressed include political
($5.4 million cut), the Department of Labor and Industry ($3.1 million) contributions to public officials from gam-
and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources ($1 mil- ing interests, allocation of the local share
lion cut). of revenue, licensing standards and the
relationship between the Gaming Control
Budget Increases: The governor would increase funding for basic Board and casino interests.
education, county child welfare programs, mental retardation services, We will see in time how much revenue
services to senior citizens, the state police, the Department of Cor- this gaming expansion brings into the Com-
rections, the Department of Community and Economic Development, monwealth, but with surrounding states
and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. moving to legalize gaming, I do not think the
results will be as favorable as the governor
Of course, the governor’s budget address only serves as a starting has presented. Time will tell.
point in the budget negotiating process. I am looking forward to learn-
ing more about the fiscal forecast for Pennsylvania as we continue
conducting budget hearings in the House, and working to produce the
best budget possible for the state that keeps government spending
under control and does not increase taxes on hard-working families.

N E AT R E P BA K E R . C O M
Report Poor Road Conditions to
LIHEAP POTHOLE Hotline
Deadline Motorists are encouraged to contact the Pennsylvania Department
Extended of Transportation (PennDOT) to report potholes and other problems
with state roads.
Based on the caller’s phone number, calls are directed to local
PennDOT maintenance facilities where problems can receive the ap-
Pennsylvania’s Low-Income Home propriate attention. Callers are encouraged to:
Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) • Report the county and municipality where the problem is located.
deadline has been extended until April • Report the state route number, which can be found on the small
2. white-and-black signs posted along state roads, where the problem is
The LIHEAP program is administered located.
by the Department of Public Welfare • Describe familiar landmarks nearby in order to help PennDOT
(DPW) and helps income-eligible house- crews locate the problem.
holds pay for heat during the winter The toll-free maintenance hotline can be reached at 1-800-FIX-ROAD
months. (1-800-349-7623). In addition to reporting potholes, motorists may also
The original closing date of the LI- report missing highway signs, shoulder drop-offs, roadway washouts
HEAP program was March 15, but cir- and other potential hazards.
cumstances have allowed the program Once notified, PennDOT will actively work to address pothole and
to continue until April 2. The cash grant other roadway concerns when the weather permits.
amounts have also increased by $100.
Applications will be available at the
Tioga County Assistance Office at 570-
724-4051 and the Bradford County
Assistance Office at 1-800-542-3938.
Applications are also available from
local utility companies and community
service agencies, such as Area Agen-
cies on Aging or community action
agencies. LIHEAP cash grant applica-
tions are available online at compass.
state.pa.us.
For complete eligibility requirements
and additional information on LIHEAP, On Feb. 4, Rep. Baker (second from left) testified before the House Judiciary Committee
visit my Web site at www.RepBaker.com and Supreme Court Justice Max Bear on his legislation (House Bill 2046 and House Bill
and click on “LIHEAP Home Heating 418) to create a uniform and streamlined system for hearing and deciding family court
Assistance.” and custody issues.

District Office Services


My district offices are here to help you. Services my staff and I provide include:
Assistance with PennDOT paperwork (lost cards, changes, corrections,
Assistance
special registration plates, vanity plates, parking placards for disabled persons,
applications for driver’s license and vehicle renewals)
PACE and PACENET applications for seniors
Property Tax and Rent Rebate applications
Voter registration forms and absentee ballot applications
Provide state tax forms
State maps and state park information
Copies of legislation
Tours of the State Capitol
Referrals to agencies to resolve state-related matters
If you need help with any of the above or with any other state-related
matter, please do not hesitate to call.

Representative Matt Baker... Serving the 68th Legislative District


DISTRICT OFFICES: HARRISBURG OFFICE:
74 Main Street, Wellsboro, PA 16901 430 Canton Street, Suite 6, Troy, PA 16947 108 Ryan Office Building, P.O. Box 202068
Phone: (570) 724-1390 Phone: (570) 297-3045 Harrisburg, PA 17120-2068
Fax: (570) 724-2168 Phone: (717) 772-5371
Fax: (570) 297-5551
Fax: (717) 705-1835

Web: RepBaker.com Email: mbaker@pahousegop.com