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Letters to the Editor: Pa. failing to keep its working class

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Pa. great place to retire, but bad for workers

Jason Kavulich, the state’s secretary of aging, shared great news: Pennsylvania is a top place to retire. Unfortunately, the commonwealth is not hospitable to the working-age populations, who are leaving Pennsylvania in high numbers.

WalletHub ranked Pennsylvania 46th in the nation for employment. Also, Census Bureau data shows a net population decrease for Pennsylvania in 11 of the past 12 years as working-age individuals flee for better opportunities.

I’ve watched this trend firsthand. Since graduating college in 2021, I’ve watched countless classmates move to more economically prosperous states, such as Florida and North Carolina. Pennsylvania’s inability to keep and attract working-age adults could have serious consequences soon.

According to the Independent Fiscal Office, Pennsylvania faces a budget deficit that will grow to $3 billion and exhaust the General Fund by 2025-26. Demographic shifts will only exacerbate this trend, as an aging population will increase costs for entitlement programs, such as Medicaid. At the same time, a decline in working-age adults will dry up the tax base funding these programs.

To combat this challenge, lawmakers must make Pennsylvania an attractive place to live, work, and do business. Controlling spending, reforming taxation, reducing regulatory burdens and increasing educational choice could reverse this troubling trend.

Andrew Holman

Lower Frederick Township

Imagine if Hamas attack had been in Lehigh Valley

The author of the Town Square piece linking the Holocaust to the situation in Gaza actually has the situation in reverse. Although his own life was significantly impacted by his family being victims of the Nazis during World War II, he failed to address the Nazi-style atrocities Hamas inflicted during their invasion of Israel on Oct. 7.

According to Israel, Hamas terrorists decapitated and dismembered Israeli babies, had the parents watch the babies die, and then killed the parents. They repeatedly raped women to the point of breaking their bones, and then killed them. Hamas filmed parts of their attack but given human sensibilities, these films cannot be shown publicly, e.g. on television or social media. Hamas’ final act was to take 240 hostages back to the tunnels under hospitals, schools and mosques in Gaza. Many of these hostages are the children of parents who were murdered by Hamas.  What would your response be, if God forbid, these atrocities had occurred in the Lehigh Valley?

Barry Halper

Allentown

Column on Medicare negotiations overstated risks

Professor Anthony O’Brien on Nov. 20 again railed at mean, old Joe Biden. How dare Biden allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical manufacturers? According to O’Brien, this would mean we’ll all be at risk of incurable Alzheimer’s. I guess once a year it’s time to roll out that time-honored trope that if Medicare is allowed to negotiate prices, drug companies will be disincentivized to continue to develop new products. The argument is both specious and disingenuous. As we know Medicare applies only to people 65 and older. Drugs solely for those under 65 would be exempt from negotiations.

To support his argument, he cites it costs up to $2 billion for each drug that gets approved. Ask yourself how much of that $2 billion is spent on seemingly endless TV ads vs. research and development. He goes on to cite two conservative economists who argue the new drug pipeline would shrink dramatically. One, Tomas Philipson, worked for President Trump and downplayed the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

The bottom line is this is just another of the good professor’s screeds against the perils of government regulation. By all means, let the free market run free. What could go wrong?

Bruce Eppensteiner

Wind Gap

Pa. support for vouchers is hurting public education

Over the last 20 years, Pennsylvania has shifted the burden of funding public education to the local taxpayer. Currently, only 38% of school education funding comes from the state (well below the national average of 47%), and we are 45th in the country for equitable funding distribution. This is covered ground. In February, Commonwealth Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer ruled that the funding gaps are so wide — ranging from $12,000 per student in the Mars Area School District to more than $45,000 per student in Bryn Athyn School District — that they are unconstitutional.

Despite this ruling, Senate Bill 757 proposes $100 million for PASS vouchers and $555 million for EITC/OSTC tax credits, another form of voucher. This is on top of the $2 billion diverted from public schools to EITC/OSTC vouchers for private schools since 2001, with no data to track these programs’ effectiveness or even which students received the voucher funding. Jeffrey Yass and his organizations have earned millions from voucher programs in the past. Campaign contributions from Yass’ PACs over the last 10 years are more than $55 million. To understand the truth about Pennsylvania school funding, follow the money.

Tracy Smith

Lower Macungie Township

Legislation would help lower drug prices

As a registered nurse, I take seriously the need for patients to get the best health care available to them. This includes ensuring that their prescription medicines remain affordable and accessible. Taking medicine consistently can be the difference between life and death.

A driver of higher costs for prescription drugs is how pharmacy benefit managers operate today. When created, PBMs were supposed to help lower costs by negotiating between insurance companies and insurers to get the best price for patients. But they have had the opposite effect. They often exclude cheaper, but equally effective drugs because PBMs’ payments are linked to the high price of drugs.

We need a system that encourages lower drug prices and then passes those savings to patients.

Congress is considering legislation to protect patients. H.R. 2880, the Protecting Patients from PBM Abuses Act, de-links what the PBMs are paid for the services they render from the price of medicine. Adoption of this legislation would help achieve the goal of making medicine affordable to everyone. I encourage our representatives in Congress to co-sponsor this legislation and bring it to the floor for a vote. Patients can’t afford any further delays.

 Shayna Donato

Coopersburg

The Morning 첥Ƶ encourages community dialogue on important issues. Submit a letter to the editor at letters@mcall.com.

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