Pennsylvania, First in the Nation for Single Payer?

Will Pennsylvania be the first state in the nation to pass single payer health insurance reform?

Chuck Pennacchio says yes.

Pennacchio is a Professor of History at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

And he’s the executive director of Health Care For All Pennsylvania.

For the past three years he’s been campaigning for a state single payer bill in Pennsylvania.

Governor Ed Rendell says that he will sign the bill if it passes the state legislature.

Rendell is the first Governor in the nation to commit to signing single payer legislation.

Pennacchio says he needs 102 votes in the House and 26 votes in the Senate to pass single payer into law.

And so far, he says he has 40 members of the House — including four Republicans — and 11 members of the Senate.

That means he needs only another 62 members of the House and another 15 members of the Senate.

And he says his goal is to get the legislation through the Pennsylvania legislature and on to Governor Rendell’s desk by November 19.

This year.

Pennacchio has a long history in progressive Democratic politics.

He was the deputy campaign manager for Tim Wirth for Senate in Colorado.

He was Iowa field coordinator for the Paul Simon for President campaign.

He was statewide coordinator for the Tom Harkin for U.S. Senate campaign in Iowa.

He was a staff assistant to former California Senator Alan Cranston.

Now, he’s got his eyes on a different prize.

Health care for all Pennsylvanians.

He’s crafted legislation that would make Pennsylvania the first single payer state in the nation.

There have been hearings in both houses of the legislature.

And Pennacchio is reaching out to citizens of all political stripes to get single payer passed in Pennsylvania.

He told a group of single payer activists meeting Sunday in McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania that he’s had success with his local Chamber of Commerce and with the local Grange — both of which tend to tack conservative.

And he called efforts by Congressional Democrats to push for watered down health care reform “fraudulent.”

That’s why he’s fighting for a state single payer bill.

Everybody in. Nobody out.

To show the country that single payer saves money and covers everyone.

He’s raising money to fund an economic impact study.

(Want to help? Call Pennacchio at 215.828.5055.)

Such a study would “demonstrate the dramatic administrative savings, prescription drug savings, savings with regard to curtailing defensive medicine.”

“It would demonstrate jobs creation — we anticipate 140,000 new jobs from single payer in Pennsylvania,” Pennacchio said.

California has passed single payer legislation twice.

But it was vetoed both times by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Pennacchio says that next to California, Pennsylvania is the most active single payer state in the nation.

“But we have political advantages in Pennsylvania that they don’t have in California,” Pennacchio said.

“We have the commitment of the Governor to sign it here. They don’t have that in California. Plus we have funding authorization, which is embedded in our legislation, but it’s not in the California legislation.”

Pennacchio’s group is holding a rally for single payer in Harrisburg on Tuesday.

“We anticipate at least 1,000 people at the rally,” Pennacchio said. “We want Pennsylvania to serve as a model for the nation.”

Russell Mokhiber is the editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter..