One of the things I most look forward to when in Harrisburg is running into Rep. Barbara McIlvaine Smith. Always working hard for the people of Chester County's 156th House District AND the people of Pennsylvania, she has become a leader in Harrisburg. Always smiling, always cheerful, she always has a kind word. Smith has distinguished herself already as few frosh can do in such an environment. She is leading on issues like universal health care on the Health and Human Services Committee.
Having been a small business owner she even did a quick calculation at a hearing last week to illustrate how House Bill 1660 would have saved her small business considerably on their health insurance costs. Here's another example (from her website) of her quick and clear thinking:
"I'm the number two sponsor on The Family and Business Healthcare Security Act, which would cover all Pennsylvanians at lower cost to business. This past week, our Health and Human Services Committee held its first hearing on the bill (HB1660) at the Capitol.
When it was my turn to speak, I prefaced my comments by stating that I had been a business owner for nearly 28 years. And health insurance was our largest expenditure per month. I shared how much that cost was per year, and then I stated how much the cost would be under this plan—about half.
In later testimony, a woman representing the largest chamber in the state proffered that the "tax on business" would impact low income and entry level workers the most. When I asked her to explain, she said that restaurants would have to let their dishwashers go. I asked, "Then who would do the dishes?"
Our low income and entry level workers are already being impacted by lack of health coverage. But none of us can be sure we have enough coverage or the right kind of coverage until we need it. It's time that we as a society put the health, safety, and welfare of our fellow citizens at the forefront of our policy-making."
The speaker in the above exchange was representing business interests opposed to universal healthcare. Her assertion that a single payer system covering everyone would cost low level workers their jobs is reminiscent of that we heard against raising the minimum wage two years ago. None of these workers lost their jobs by increasing their wages from poverty levels and providing them with quality, comprehensive medical will not either. These are desperate fear tactics used by business owners and leaders to allow them to further exploit workers.
They fail to see that healthier workers are more productive workers, healthier workers are happier and less likely to quit for jobs which do provide healthcare, and fail to see that every person has the inherent right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. How can one live when insurance companies have the right to deny you critical medical care? Why do their rights supercede that of dishwashers or anyone else?
Barbara McIlvaine Smith is working in Harrisburg for all of us and, especially Chester County's 156th House District. Let's keep her there and help keep her there. Please support her campaign.