Newspaper collage caption:
It has never been a secret that Ridge's health care cuts will
increase the death rate among Pennsylvania's unemployed and working poor.


GOVERNOR RIDGE KNEW OR SHOULD HAVE KNOWN:

The Record


When Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge signed a bill cutting more then 220,000 citizens from the state medical assistance rolls on May 16, 1996, he had been duly warned that this action was a Nazi criminal act. We review here, chronologically, the evidence that he knew or should have known the magnitude of his crime.


PHASE I

March 2, 1996: Presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche, in a national half-hour TV address, issued the following warning:

"So what we have, is we have a dying economy which is no longer able to support itself. And, instead of saying that the policies which led us to this collapse were wrong, and we should change these policies and go back to the kinds of policies that worked, people are saying, `No. We have to cut pensions, we have to cut this, we have to cut Medicare.' Now, that's not acceptable. And it's not just not acceptable. This is Hitler thinking, and I'm not exaggerating.

"What Newt Gingrich is, is a Hitler-style criminal. His entire mafia are Hitler-style criminals; because they are proposing policies which take entire categories of people, including senior citizens, young unwed mothers, etc., etc., and propose policies which result in an increase in the death rates in that section of the population. They are killing people as much as if they killed each person, individually with an axe; but they're doing it with a pencil or a personal computer in Washington, or with orders to somebody who's running a personal computer, not with the axe."

Early March 1996: Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Fumo (D-Philadelphia), told the Senate that Governor Ridge and his fellow Republicans were "like a Panzer division, like a bunch of Nazis," in their swiftness to push through the medical cuts. The Pennsylvania media published his charge on March 18.

March 15, 1996: The Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition issued a memorandum to the General Assembly on the bill, urging its defeat, and forecasting that it would cause "undue harm," "more suicides," and "more pain and suffering" by Pennsylvanians.

March 18, 1996: The Pennsylvania State Senate passed Governor Ridge's welfare reform bill, SB 1441, which includes a provision that would eliminate the state's Medically Needy Only program, cutting health insurance for more than a quarter-million working poor and disabled. The governor claims the bill will "save" $250 million; his budget also includes $60 million in business tax cuts.

March 18, 1996: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette publishes a page 1 article documenting what will happen to one couple, if the Ridge cuts go through:

"Dorothy Brooks says a proposal to trim the state Medical Assistance program could become her husband's death sentence.

" `It's a form of euthanasia,' the Beaver County homemaker said. `If we lose that benefit, and my husband's cancer of the larynx recurs in the next two years, we won't be able to afford to pay the medical bills. No one will take him as a patient then. He could die....

" `I'm scared. God forbid I should get some type of illness. I already need a hip replacement. But that's on hold. It's not life-threatening. My husband's illness is life-threatening.'

"A mother of 10, Dorothy Brooks, 56, described the downward economic spiral she and her husband have been in since the steel mills near their Vanport home closed in 1982."

March 19, 1996: The Philadelphia Inquirer publishes a page 1 article, highlighting numerous case studies of those who will be hurt by the Ridge cuts:

"-- Harriet Sibert, a widow with grown children and a monthly income of about $550. Eight years ago, at age 58, she had breast cancer surgery covered by the state's medical assistance. Had Ridge's proposal been in effect, she probably would not have qualified.... `I couldn't have paid' for the breast cancer surgery, said Sibert.... `I probably would have died.' "

"-- Lester Thomas, 55, a part-time van driver who makes about $560 a month. He had health insurance until he was laid off in 1990 by his employer of 17 years, a cabinet manufacturer. Thomas, who has diabetes, and his wife, who has a heart condition, have qualified for medical assistance when he has been between jobs. Under the Ridge proposal, they probably would not."

"-- Regina Daniels, 58, a widow and retired teacher's assistant with grown children and a monthly income of about $500. She suffered crippling fractures, including leg and pelvic fractures, in a November car accident. Although she expects her car insurance to cover her hospitalization, state medical assistance is now paying for her physical rehabilitation. She would likely be ineligible under the proposed cuts.

" `I hope and pray I'll be able to walk and use my right hand again,' Daniels said last week from Magee Rehabilitation Hospital. `Thank God for medical assistance.' "

March 20, 1996: Gary Tuma, a spokesman for Senator Fumo, told the press that: "It's going to eliminate 260,000 people, basically, from the medical assistance rolls. These are not all welfare recipients. Many of them are working poor. Many of them are people who have done exactly what government and many people have encouraged them to do, which is they've gone out and tried to get themselves jobs, get off of welfare." This statement appeared in the April 1 issue of The New Federalist.

March 22, 1996: The LaRouche presidential campaign launches a statewide mobilization to defeat the measure in the House. Republican Speaker of the House Matthew Ryan was picketed, and calls began to go into Democrats and Republicans in the House.

March 24, 1996: The McKeesport Daily News publishes a page 1 article on how the cuts imperil hospitals:

"Local hospitals are faced with some harrowing economic difficulties in light of Gov. Tom Ridge's welfare cut proposal--so much so that Braddock Medical Center is threatening to shut down after 90 years of operation and lay off its 700 workers....

" `We could hang on for a year, a year and a half--that's it. It's very unfortunate,' Richard Benfer, Braddock Hospital's president, said. `Because we serve an indigent population, we don't have large reserves....

" `The closing of Braddock Hospital would be devastating, socially and economically,' State Sen. Albert Belan, D-West Mifflin, said. `It would cut the lifeline of individuals in certain income categories between Pittsburgh and McKeesport.' "

March 24, 1996: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette publishes an extensive review of the expected results of the policy:

" `It is the cruelest and most inhumane policy I've ever heard of,' said State Rep. Richard Olasz (D-West Mifflin). `These are people who had good jobs in the steel industry and have taken minimum-wage jobs to retain some dignity, and they have no health benefits. To discard them on the heap is cruel and inhumane.'

"... If approved, the cuts would represent one of the largest wholesale eliminations of medical benefits for the poor ever approved in any state, according to Allen Jensen of the Intergovernmental Health Policy Project, a think-tank at George Washington University in Washington, D.C."

March 25, 1996: The LaRouche campaign and LaRouche's Pennsylvania spokesman, Phil Valenti, hold a press conference in Harrisburg's Capitol Rotunda. Valenti called the measure "a violation of the Nuremberg code, under which Nazi leaders, who `knew, or should have known' that their policies would result in wrongful deaths of innocent people, were tried and convicted of `crimes against humanity.' "

Also lobbying against the bill were the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the Pennsylvania Council of Churches, trade unions, welfare rights activists, hospitals, health care workers, and the cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

March 25, 1996: In an unexpected defeat for the governor, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 125 to 76, to restore the cuts in the medical assistance program, which had been part of SB 1441. This involved the switch of 24 Republicans, who joined Democrats to defeat the bill.


PHASE 2

Despite the defeat, Governor Ridge and his Republican collaborators continued to push for the cuts in the Medically Needy Only plan, in order to save $250 million, and balance the budget.

May 8, 1996: The Delaware Valley Hospital Council (DVHC) issues a press release, reporting on a study conducted by the Philadelphia Health Management Corp. (PHMC):

"The governor's proposal to eliminate health care benefits for almost 90,000 area residents enrolled in the state's medical assistance/medically needy program may increase the uninsured in the region by 38 percent and hasten the deterioration of its overall health status, said Andrew Wigglesworth, president of the PVHC....

"The PHMC study found that uninsured adults are significantly more likely to be in fair or poor health (18 percent) than their insured counterparts (11.9 percent).

"In addition, the uninsured are:

April 3, 1996: LaRouche campaign supporters rally against the Nazi health cuts outside the office of Pennsylvania House Majority leader John Perzel (R-Philadelphia).

April 4: Lyndon LaRouche gives a press conference in Philadelphia, outlining an emergency plan to reverse the current economic and financial breakdown, and addressed the important precedent established in the defeat of Governor Ridge's bill. LaRouche specifically called for an alternative tax, based on the principles established by the Sen. Kennedy-Sen. Daschle proposals against wild speculative profits. Asked on WWBD radio if he were comparing Governor Ridge to Hitler, LaRouche replied the "lesson of that period is the process which brought Hitler to power, and wherever you see someone walking that road again, you have to say, `We hung people like you at Nuremberg, not because you were full-blown, mustachioed, swastika-bearing Hitlers, but because you took the steps down the road which led to what happened.'"

April 10, 1996: LaRouche campaign representative Phil Valenti held a Harrisburg press conference to release an emergency plan to balance the Commonwealth's budget, without making cuts in medical assistance or other necessary social programs. At the press conference in Harrisburg, Valenti issued a revenue-raising plan, which called for either a modest excise tax on capital gains, or a "securities sales tax," in order to raise the necessary monies.

May 14, 1996: The Hospital Association of Pennsylvania issues detailed impact analyses of Governor Ridge's proposals. One impact analysis estimated that Governor Ridge's final version, which he signed into law on May 16, 1996, would eliminate 223,448 persons from medical assistance, resulting in lost hospital revenues of $279,399,406.

May 14, 1996: Faced with a stalemate due to the actions of the House, Governor Ridge sent the full bill to a Republican-dominated House-Senate Conference Committee, where it was voted out--this time with a slight change. Instead of cutting medical assistance for 260,000 poor people, it kept the insurance for individuals between ages 59 and 64 (although an income cap was added), and reduced the numbers affected to approximately 220,000.

May 15, 1996: The Senate passes the cuts after a mere half-hour debate, and is sent to the House for immediate vote.

May 15, 1996: Rep. Harold James (D-Philadelphia) excoriates the bill on the floor of the House, calling it a "prescription for death."

May 15, 1996: The House of Representatives passes SB 1441 after a six hour debate, by a margin of 103-93.

May 16, 1996: Governor Ridge signs the bill, putting the cuts into effect immediately. Recipients are now removed from the rolls of the insured, when their cards expire.

May 16, 1996: Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell condemns the cuts as "ridiculous, cruel, inhumane," and adds: "to take away public assistance might be the equivalent of signing a death warrant."

May 16, 1996: Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia, called the cuts "unconscionable," and attacked Ridge and the legislature for "balanc[ing] the state budget by abandoning the poor."

May 16, 1996: Democratic Presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche announces that he will lead an impeachment drive against the Governor. "This is murder, Governor Ridge. Murder! Plain mass murder, and you cannot do it and put yourself in any other category, but the same category which the Nazis we hung at Nuremberg belong to."


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