Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski on Wednesday urged Blue Mountain Health System staff to "swear into the army" to spread support for the $938 billion federal health care overhaul signed into law on March 23.
Kanjorski said he voted in favor of the controversial law for the sake of the 32 million uninsured people in the United States, and that health coverage for all would make for a stronger, healthier United States.
The law won't be fully in effect for four years, and Kanjorski said it would be revised as it moves through each phase. Starting this year, the law will "close the doughnut hole for those on Medicare, provide tax credits for small businesses to help them afford health insurance for their employees, prohibit insurance companies from dropping people when they get sick and from placing lifetime caps on coverage, and enable young adults to stay on their parents' health insurance until age 26."
Kanjorski asked his audience to dismiss the "misinformation and disinformation" being spread about the law.
The law has been the source of much contention, with support or opposition being generally split along party lines; Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett has joined attorney generals from 12 other states in suing to stop the law, arguing that it is unconstitutional.
Closer to home, state Sen. David G. Argall has co-sponsored legislation that would block the mandate that everyone must obtain coverage and that would eliminate any fines or penalties for failing to do so.
Kanjorski, who spoke to an audience of about 30 staff at BMHS' Gnaden Huetten campus, was introduced by BMHS president/CEO Drew Harris.
Hospitals, Harris said, "worked with the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation to address many of the key concerns in the health care bill that would affect patients across the country, including many of those right here in Carbon County.
"Pennsylvania hospitals and health systems have long supported taking steps to achieve coverage of all of our citizens," he said.
After Kanjorski's speech, BMHS Director of Revenue Operations Breann Malia said the legislation, which requires people to have health insurance those who don't will be fined could save the hospital $5 million a year.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Clem McGinley praised the law.
"Health care reform has been needed desperately for years," he said.