PA House appropriations committee gets a shocking revelation about who helped write a contract

March 25 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has been involved in appropriations meetings for the last few weeks.

Appropriations are when government money is set aside for a specific purpose – and as you can imagine, the decisions in these meetings are pretty important.

A recent discussion about the contracts being written to try and secure Medicaid providers brought a pretty outrageous discovery.

Medicaid providers are where people can go to seek service if they are on Medicaid.

Medicaid providers – whether it’s UPMC, Fulton County Medical Center or any other health care organization – have to apply to be part of that contract.

The language in the contract as it’s been written says if the organization isn’t unionized, if the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) does not have the ability to unionize or collective bargaining and the organization has had a work-stop in the past, they are not eligible to even apply for that contract.

In other words, they can’t be a Medicaid provider. What would that mean to people on Medicaid in Pennsylvania?

At the hearings in Harrisburg, this exchange occurred:

Representative Jesse Topper asked, “Is SEIU saying that well if you help us here then we’ll be okay? Is that where this is coming from?”

Secretary of the Department of Human Services, Meg Snead, said, “It was a collaboration between the administration and SEIU. Yes.”

Topper announced in the House Chamber, “I will say this. This to me is what government run healthcare looks like. If we ever wanted a snapshot of what would happen with socialized medicine, this is what it would look like. When we start having forced collective bargaining. When we start telling these healthcare providers what they need to do in terms of their employees in this nature, I think that gives Pennsylvania a good idea of what socialistic medicine looks like and I think that will limit services for our people here in Pennsylvania specifically in areas that already have trouble with access.”

Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “I share Jesse’s bewilderment on this issue because certainly there’s medical facilities in his district and here locally that are not unionized, that do not have collective bargaining. This change in Medicaid policy, which would be promulgated by the Department of Human Services, they’re saying that Medicaid funds might be withheld unless there’s a collective bargaining agreement in place. That seems almost like an impossible provision to the extent that we have a lot of facilities that are not part of a union. The whole thing seems upside down.”

But the real issue is it sure feels like the rooster is in the hen house.  

Topper said, “It’s about forced collective bargaining. These contracts are worth billions of dollars and then we find out, which was I thought a stunning revelation, that not only were they behind that contract, but they actually collaborated with the very people who would benefit, oh by the way, who also happen to be Governor Wolf’s largest campaign contributors over the past two cycles.”

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM said, “It’s just stunning to me. How often and how much are we seeing this now? These public/private partnerships or in this case, the unions who are so supportive of the Democratic Party – their biggest contributors. We’re seeing it at the school district level where school districts are being coerced into taking on experimental programs to teach Social Emotional Learning to our K through 12 students because they attach the ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds to it. We’re seeing this at so many levels.”

Barkdoll added, “Rural areas (where) not a lot of choices that patients would have to go and then would this make it even harder of those citizens of Pennsylvania? That certainly should not be the outcome here, but yet it sounds like that’s where this thing could go.”

Can the legislature do anything about this coercive contract writing?

Topper said, “There are always going to be strings attached when you take government money. That’s always been a part of it. And look, public/private partnerships sometimes they’re very successful in the world of transportation or other things. The problem with this specific instance, it’s one thing to have special interests groups lobby for their position. It’s another thing to have them write the specific language that guarantees billions of dollars worth of contracts. That is what crosses the ethical lines in my opinion. You normally don’t have an admission under oath in a committee hearing about it, but I guess we can thank Secretary Snead for being honest.”

Getting the information out about this is what’s really important.

Topper said, “At some point the other side also has to do their job and investigate and I’m talking about the media – investigate these things and say look this is what we see that’s a problem with government.”

Jansen added, “If we had a media that would actually go back to its original role of calling out the power sides and seeing where the corruption is, we would have a better shot. We have to keep fighting for that. I know it seems so overwhelming at the moment because we see now social media platforms just taking down anything they don’t agree with and they seem to be bent on going to one extreme side on all of this. I really appreciate you exposing this.”

Topper pointed out, “You can bring suits. I think putting it into the courts, while it certainly doesn’t always in you the day…looking at all the options we have, all the tools at our disposal to expose and bring about the change and trying to put it into the courts is another way we can try and get that change.”