Healthcare was one of many issues discussed Monday in a joint appearance by State Representative Kate Harper and her Election Day opponent, Mary Lou Readinger, on the WNPV talk program Comment Please by Univest. Readinger said she sees a lot of people struggling with healthcare issues in her work as a nurse, she believes insurance should be made affordable for everyone, and state lawmakers missed a chance to reach that goal.
“Right now, when people are losing their jobs and need our assistance, unlike my opponent, I would have voted for expanding the Adult Healthcare Basic for people in need. I just don’t understand why she voted against that.”
Harper said she has voted to expand adult basic coverage in the past, but when it came up for a vote in January of last year the timing was bad.
“It was right after the market crashed and we couldn’t afford it. The last thing you want to do is create a massive entitlement to more government services at a time when we can’t afford it. And to be very clear about this, 40 percent of our budget already goes to Medicaid and welfare spending.”
She said they were already facing a budget deficit, and the bill called for a massive increase in state spending, so she had to vote against it. Harper also said she has concerns about drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale, but the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has told her it’s safe.
“DEP assures me that they have it under control and that they know what they’re doing. I’m worried about that. That’s why I want some of the tax money to go into a fund to remedy any adverse impact that might occur. On the other hand, this is so big that it’s important not just for Pennsylvania jobs. This is important for American independence on energy.”
Harper is a Republican who represents Montgomery County's 61st District. Readinger, a Democrat, says drilling must be done right with proper safeguards, but the state must also do more with alternative energy and other environmental initiatives.
“Jersey is way ahead of us, other states are way ahead of us in environmental initiatives, and we need to do more with solar and we need to do more with wind, so the focus has to be on all environmental initiatives and what’s good for Pennsylvania and jobs.”
Readinger says they have launched several green initiatives in Plymouth Township, where she is a council member.