Pennsylvania appropriation hearings reveal major communication issues

February 26 – With the start of appropriation hearings in the State of Pennsylvania to take a look at the budget and ask questions of different departments, a rather shocking discovery was made.

Representative Jesse Topper joined Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen on News Talk 103.7FM this morning to discuss various issues.

“We knew that there was a great deal of mismanagement within this administration from COVID 19 but, we didn’t realize the extent until now,” Topper said. “We actually had the Department of Aging Secretary say that he had not been in contact with the Department of Health concerning the issues in the nursing homes. And for a secretary to admit that on the record, under oath, was stunning.”

The results of that miscommunication are evident.

“And the reason why this is important in appropriations is because the people demand accountability for their tax dollars,” Topper said. “And this is one of those situations where we’ve seen a complete lack of accountability and effectiveness.”

If there’s no communication between departments, are they all really necessary? 

“If the only department that’s worth keeping is the Department of Health, then let’s cut all the other ones,” Topper suggested. “If we’re looking for ways to save money, then we don’t need any of these other ones. If you’re not going to your job, if you’re not going to actually challenge the governor in any of these meetings or the Secretary of Health then we don’t really need to be paying your salary.”

It’s understandable that in the beginning of the pandemic, the world was trying to figure out what to do and there was a great deal of uncertainty and confusion.

But the vaccine rollout is a horse of a different color and that was most definitely brought up at the appropriation hearings.

“That wasn’t something that just came out of nowhere,” Topper said. “We had months to prepare for this vaccine rollout. The legislature begged for a task force that would allow us to have input. Of course, there was none until three weeks ago, after the disaster had already taken place with the rollout. And these are the kinds of things that are exceptionally frustrating. They had months to prepare. They went it alone. It was a disaster and now we’re really paying for that.”

Another real source of communication issues is with the number of deaths in nursing homes.

Jansen pointed out the real quandary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary (Dr. Rachel Levine) likely being appointed as the Assistant Health Secretary for the entire country. “I think it’s just because she checked a historic box when it comes to what she is instead of her competency and qualifications.”

With the possible appointment come a host of questions, including why Dr. Levine took her mother out of a Pennsylvania nursing home only to send COVID-positive patients back into nursing homes a very short while later.

The answer was it was CDC guidelines, but that was not the case.

The questioning is now in the public record and Topper encouraged listeners to watch the proceedings, which can be found at the House Republican Caucus site.

“What is ironic is the other side of the aisle accuses what we were doing to try and reopen Pennsylvania as not caring about life, not caring about the deaths,” Topper noted. “This was actually killing people. We had people who died in these facilities because of this order from the Secretary of Health. Taxpayer dollars went in to all of these departments during this time and we’re seeing the results of it now.”

Jansen added, “It’s kind of sad that now Dr. Levine probably will move onto that position (in the federal government) because once again we’re intimidated and fearful of ever voting against someone who falls into one of the grievance categories because then you’re accused of being some kind of -obic or -ist.”

Indeed, at the state level during hearings of how to treats trans children, the same thing was seen.

Topper was part of a bill that addressed exactly that. The bill said no tax dollars should go toward hormone treatment for minors because minors are not capable of making these kinds of decisions.

“I don’t look at people as their class or their race or their sexual orientation,” Topper said. “I’m looking, especially in government, at the job they do. And Dr. Levine failed in her job. I don’t care about anything else. And if we don’t get back to a place where we can have intellectually honest discussions about people who either succeed or fail on their own merits, in every aspect of our life, but specifically government, then we will get the government that we deserve and that is not a competent one.”

Ryan pointed out how Dr. Rand Paul was schooled by Dr. Levine in the hearings for not discussing sensitive issues, like genital mutilation and hormone therapy in private.

“I’m paying her salary,” Ryan noted. “I’m paying Rand’s salary. I don’t want this stuff in private. If this is your belief, you put it out there in front of everybody. For her to say we can have this conversation in private, why? Doesn’t that beg a lot of answers right there?”