March 2009
Singlepayer healthcare plan still in play
By Suzan Erem
beyond imagina-
But Obama supports “universal” coverage,
Leading up to last November’s elections,
meaning everyone will have access to
the Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State host-
John Smith is a contract employee with
healthcare coverage provided by an insur-
ed Chuck Pennacchio, executive director of
the county who receives fair wages for the
Benninghoff, whose
ance company, but not
“single payer,”
Healthcare for All Pa, and the head of
specialized services he provides, but no
family has had
where the government pays for privately-
Physicians for a National Health Program
health benefits. Because of the sensitive
extensive experi-
provided health services, taking insurance
David Himmelstein, a professor at Harvard
nature of his situation, he has asked Voices
ence with the
companies out of the loop.
Medical School.
not to use his real name.
healthcare system,
Single payer systems exist in every indus-
Then in December, Centre County resi-
Smith is 56 and has been self-employed
might be asking the
trialized nation in the world, and a 2007 poll
dents Smith, Joanne Tosti-Vasey and Joyce
for years, but now not having health insur-
same question. He
of Pennsylvanians indicated the strongest
Luzier drove to Harrisburg to attend a
ance has taken on a new urgency. In fact, it
has scheduled a
support for such “Canadian-style” health-
statewide conference organized by
Norman Soloman
could be a matter of life or death. His father
March information-
(Voices Nov.
2007 online). Single
Pennacchio to rev up the agenda on single
died of prostate cancer. His twin brother has
al session for the House Rural Healthcare
payer also exists here in the form of
payer. State College resident Chris Byrne, a
early signs of it. And now that he has lost
Caucus, which he chairs, about the single
Medicare, a program with 3 percent over-
Penn State professor, made a presentation at
his health coverage, Smith knows that as
payer healthcare option. The meeting will
head costs compared to 12 to 20 percent for
the conference as well.
soon as he applies for individual health
be an opportunity for single payer health-
many major health insurance companies,
The meeting’s primary purpose was to
insurance as a self-employed person, the
care advocates to present information to
(an estimated $17 billion to $22 billion per
develop a strategy for passing the
insurance company will require either a
legislators and answer their questions.
year for Pennsylvanians according to the
Family and Business Healthcare Security
statement of his health history or a physical.
“My goal is to try to provide different
Voices Feb. 2007 report based on a 2003
Act.” The conference keynote speaker was
If he has a high Prostate-specific antigen
forums to get information,” Benninghoff said
Harvard study)
syndicated journalist Norman Solomon,
(PSA) count (an early sign of prostate can-
in an interview. “If people have fear for lack
Gov. Ed Rendell is alone among gover-
national co-chair of the Progressive
cer) in his medical records, insurance com-
of information, they’re going to oppose it.”
nors to promise that if single payer gets to
Democrats of America’s “Healthcare NOT
panies will either exclude coverage for
The number of Americans in Smith’s sit-
his desk, he will sign it into law. When
Warfare” initiative.
prostate cancer or set sky-high premiums.
uation is growing exponentially, up almost
asked at a State College press conference in
“What we don’t need is more ways to
“I really have no options open,” Smith,
8 million between 2000 and 2008 according
2007 about why he did not support single
subsidize the insurance industry,” Solomon
who holds dual citizenship here and in
to the U.S. Census Bureau. It is one reason
payer, Rendell said he was working with a
Europe, told Voices. “How this situation can
why Barack Obama made healthcare a cen-
general assembly that would not support
see Singlepayer , pg. 5
exist in the richest Western economy is
tral platform of his presidential campaign.
more taxes.
Bellefonte military family concerned about future
By Sophie Kerszberg
Today soldiers stay at a single base for
five years, Mary said. Their chances of get-
The Miltenbergers of Bellefonte have
ting deployed and redeployed increase
collectively served in the Army for more
when a soldier stays with the same unit for
than 29 years, but now find it difficult to
a set amount of years.
extricate themselves from military life.
Mary Miltenberger’s youngest son Mike
More than 30 years ago, to pay for col-
is 27 years old and has completed two tours
lege, Dan Miltenberger participated in
of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Now
Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. His four
in Iraq for his third tour, he was scheduled
years of payback time in the military turned
to come home in February, but was told he
into 23 years of service. He put his uniform
would have to stay with his unit, which is
back on to work for the ROTC program at
not slated to leave until November of 2009.
Penn State.
“His life is on hold,” Mary said.
“At the time, we liked it,” Dan’s wife
Mike Miltenberger has seen his seven-
Mary said, “This was the late seventies; the
month-old daughter for a total of three
military then isn’t what it is today.”
weeks. When he sees her again, she will be
“The whole system is different,” Mary
a year and a half old.
“Back then you did your tour in
“The war has been forgotten,” Mary said,
Vietnam and then you were done. Now, like
“It’s not in the news anymore. But if the
they say, ‘If the Army wanted you to have a
public only knew what was going on
family, they would issue you one.’”
there...” She described a story told to her by
Mary’s grandfather served in Europe
her son Mike. Along with a few of his fel-
during World War II. She said he was proud
Photo by Mary Vollero
to have served his country, and happy to
Mary and Dan Miltenberger of Bellefonte await the return of their son Mike from Iraq. Family members’
see Military , pg. 5
come home on time.
military service totals more than 29 years, yet Mary says, “This isn’t the Army we came into.”

March 2009
Local women await Obama’s support of U.N. convention
by Laura Newcomer
adding that violence against women is facil-
political science professor at Penn State
itated by other instances of national gender
Behrend. “Some countries do not bother to
The United States of America has some-
ratify the conven-
inequality, such as the differential in
file reports. Others gloss over violations. If
thing in common with Iran, Qatar, Somalia,
tion are required to
employment and economic opportunities.
a treaty is blatantly incapable of fulfilling
and Sudan. The United States is one of only
submit a report to
This disparity also affects women’s access
its mission, it may do more harm than good,
seven countries that have not ratified the
the U.N. at least
to health care.
“Health coverage is gen-
because the mere existence of the treaty cre-
United Nations Convention on the
every four years,
dered,” Jane Henreesy, Study Director at the
ates an illusion of progress that can reduce
Elimination of all Discrimination Against
Institute for Women’s Policy Research in
pressure for real progress. I don’t think we
Women (CEDAW).
measures taken to
Washington, D.C. said. “Women bear more
are to that point with CEDAW, but it might
Adopted in 1979 by the U.N. General
comply with the
of the burden of care for children and for the
be close,” said Gamble.
Assembly, the convention was signed in
disabled and elderly. That affects their abili-
But the ratification of CEDAW is still a
1980 by President Jimmy Carter. But
185 of the U.N.’s
Justine Andronici
ty to work,” she said, explaining that women
step in the right direction, said Deb Fulham-
throughout the last three decades, the treaty
192 members—over 90 percent—are party
can only access health coverage through a
Winston, formerly of Planned Parenthood
has yet to receive Senate approval. Now,
to the convention. Only seven countries
spouse. The lack of support for child care
of Northeast and Mid-Penn. “It’s wonderful
local women’s rights activists are looking to
have not ratified CEDAW: Iran, Qatar,
and accessible public transportation further
that it actually articulates all of the areas
the incoming Obama administration to push
Nauru, Palau, Tonga, Somalia, Sudan, and
impede women’s attempts to obtain employ-
affecting women,” she said. “It’s not just
for national ratification of the treaty.
the United States.
ment, Henreesy said.
employment, not just violence, but looking
“It’s an embarrassment that the United
Andronici said that United States ratifica-
Women who do work still may not have
at women as whole people and full citizens
States is the only industrialized country in
tion is essential for actively pursuing gender
access to health care, since the jobs typical-
who contribute to the health and well-being
the world not to have signed CEDAW,”
ly filled by women are not guaranteed
of society.”
Justine Andronici, Centre Hall resident, co-
“Women in the United States still have a
health coverage, Henreesy said, “These are
Furthermore, Andronici said national rat-
president of Nittany NOW and board mem-
long way to go,” Andronici said, “We are
very racial issues as well,” she added.
ification would “broaden our understanding
ber for the National Organization for
more than 50 percent of the population, and
But CEDAW is not the final solution to
of the meaning of equality,” and help the
Women (NOW) said. “It hampers our abili-
still earning significantly less than our male
gender inequality in the United States.
United States
“reclaim our position as
ty to lead the world in equality for women.
counterparts at work. Disparities exist in
“The convention has had limited effect,”
leader on women’s rights.” In the meantime,
We make claims about supporting women’s
our opportunities across many sectors of
partially because
“there is no effective
she said, it is up to local communities to
rights, and we even used that rationale as
society, especially education and health
enforcement,” in countries that have already
make the United States a country worthy of
partial justification for war when we
care,” she said.
ratified, explained John King Gamble,
that distinction.
claimed that we would free the women of
Some communities are opting to take
Afghanistan. And yet here we are in 2009
matters into their own hands rather than
and we haven’t signed the most significant
wait for the federal government. Citing San
women’s rights treaty ever passed,”
Francisco as a model, Andronici said that
Andronici said.
“We need to press local communities to
The treaty is an
“International bill of
commit to CEDAW. This is something we
rights for women,” according to the United
should be doing in State College.”
Nations, and is designed to ensure that
One of the most serious issues affecting
women have equal access to opportunities
women in Centre County today is the preva-
in political and public life. This includes the
lence of violence against women, Anne Ard,
right to vote and stand for election, as well
executive director of the Centre County
the right to education, employment, and
Women’s Resource Center (CCWRC) said.
health. CEDAW is the only international
“Sexual assault, domestic violence, and
convention that ensures women’s reproduc-
stalking are critical areas because they’re
tive rights.
(According to the U.S. State
life-threatening, and because they’re exac-
Department, the treaty remains “abortion
erbated by other social factors,” she said,
To all candidates of
any party affiliation
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days. Voices is an affordable way to reach
engaged, active voters in Centre County.
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March 2009
up,” she said.
bill he could see passing piecemeal, such as
insurance industry can pretty much charge
Other states are looking to Pennsylvania
the streamlining of the billing process. But
what it likes under zero restraint from any
from Singlepayer , pg. 3
for ideas. Pennacchio testified to a Colorado
removing health insurance companies alto-
legislature, as it is solely a contract between
told the audience, explaining that when peo-
legislative task force in December and
gether isn’t likely this session, he said.
an individual or family and the insurance
ple are forced to purchase insurance they get
addressed the Progressive Democrats of
“We’ve gotten so used to third party pay,
company and not subject to any oversight,”
low quality plans with high deductibles that
America in Virginia the same month. Led in
that’s a pretty dramatic change,” he said of
he said.
dissuade them from getting care.
large part by its Pittsburgh delegation, the
single payer. “You’re asking people to make
And while politicians debate over how
Luzier, a retired medical lab technician
national general assembly of the
a big mental leap they’re not ready to make
(or not) insurance companies
from Philipsburg, attended the conference
Presbyterian Church voted last June to sup-
should be regulated, uninsured Centre
to support those who don’t have coverage.
port single payer.
Meanwhile, Rendell has re-introduced his
County residents like John Smith wonder
“I think this is what we need not just in
Pennsylvania cities that have endorsed
healthcare plan to a resistant General
how long they can hold out without medical
the state, but the whole country,” she said.
single payer include Philadelphia,
Assembly facing a budget crisis and a fail-
“I think it could save the state money
Pittsburgh and Erie. Allegheny County
ing economy. His proposal includes health
But at least Smith has one option his
because what they’re planning on doing is
Council, the Pennsylvania Council of
insurance companies and their underwriters
American friends and neighbors do not.
having it set up like Medicare, and it would
Churches, 37 Pennsylvania representatives
who perform a function Smith has grown to
“It may be that I’ll have to return to
take the insurance companies out of it.”
and six senators have also signed onto the
detest. Underwriters review the medical his-
[Europe] and get treated there if I’m in the
Luzier said she was impressed with the
legislation. Centre County’s Rep. Scott
tory of prospective insurance clients and
same situation as my brother,” he said, a
plan to cover all care while reducing admin-
Conklin, Sen. Jake Corman and Rep. Kerry
have the power to exclude particular cover-
solution that leaves Centre County with one
istrative costs. “Even though I have insur-
Benninghoff have not signed on.
age and set rates.
less skilled worker and no answer to its
ance besides Medicare, prices keep going
Benninghoff said there are parts of the
“This word signifies that the medical
healthcare problems.
far, I think he’s doing a good job.”
According to Miltenberger, the military is
“When your spouse wakes up in the mid-
from Military , pg. 3
Most importantly, Miltenberger said, is
asking too much of soldiers who have been
dle of the night screaming, how do you han-
his willingness to hear all sides of an issue.
away from their families long stretches of
dle that?” Miltenberger asked.
low soldiers, he was selected for an assign-
“I wish he would ring my doorbell right
time—and too much of their families that
PTSD[Post Traumatic Stress Disorder], the
ment that involved picking up body parts
now because I feel like he’s the type that
struggle to adjust while the soldier is away.
need for space—families need to learn how
strewn about a field. He picked up a severed
would sit down at my kitchen table and we
“I’m seeing families being torn apart,”
to deal with it.”
arm and noticed a wedding band on the fin-
could talk and he would listen to me,” she
she said, adding that while the family goes
The military also needs a better way of
ger. “They’re serving their country,” Mary
on with their lives, the soldier defers school
maintaining medical care for soldiers,
said, “But how much can one person take?”
For soldiers like Mary’s nephew, who
and family time.
Miltenberger said. The waiting lists for
Mary Miltenberger said that her family
will be deployed to Afghanistan next year,
“Military families are not being taken
Veterans Affairs hospitals are long, and the
would not trade the experiences the military
Obama’s plan to focus on Afghanistan will
care of properly,” Miltenberger said. “These
nearest facility can be far away, as is the
afforded them for anything. The Army
mean more extended tours of duty.
young men and women have made incredi-
case here in Centre County.
made it possible for her family to see
While Mary Miltenberger identifies her
ble sacrifices and we’re not taking care of
“I am disappointed that there will be cuts
Europe and live in Germany during her hus-
family as a “military family,” her critical
them. The families just cannot bear the bur-
to veterans’ benefits,” Miltenberger said.
band’s tours.
eye of military operations is ever watchful.
“By the same token, with the way the econ-
“The Army was good to us,” Miltenberger
“I’ve seen people who will support every
“It takes a very special spouse to keep the
omy is, I understand that cuts need to be
“But this isn’t the Army we came
mission no matter what. I’m not like that.
home fires burning, so to speak,”
made somewhere. I just don’t feel like this
I’ll always support our troops, but I think
Miltenberger said. “They train the military,
is the right place to do it.”
A registered independent, Miltenberger
for myself.”
but they don’t train the spouses.”
Veterans today have enough difficulty
ardently supported Barack Obama during
Miltenberger supports mandatory service
Miltenberger said that military families
getting health care, she said. Her retired
the presidential campaign, and she supports
for all 18-year-olds, male and female. She
need better counseling services at their dis-
military husband Dan is listed on her insur-
Obama’s handling of the military so far.
explained that such a system would ease the
posal. A system that according to
ance because of cuts to Tri-care, the mili-
“Right now I think he’s doing the right
burden on current soldiers. Miltenberger
Miltenberger would allow for the families
tary insurance plan he would qualify for.
thing by treading lightly on what’s happen-
said that her view of how the military
to deal with their loved ones’ post deploy-
“When the troops get back, we have
ing out in the world,” she said. “Our presi-
should be structured will probably not be
ment emotional, and societal adjustment
parades for them,” she said. “But when the
dent has to make any changes slowly, and so
enacted under the Obama administration.
parades are over, what then?”
State College Peace Center
All films at 7:30 PM, State College Municipal Bldg, 243 S. Allen St, rm 201
M arch 19, Occupation 101: Documentary on
March 25 Speaker
root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
George Galloway
March 26, The Cats of Mirikitani: Eighty-year-old
British MP
Jimmy Mirikitani survived internment camps,
Hiroshima, and homelessness by creating art.
Check our website
April 2, Sacco and Vanzetti: An ordeal that came
for location and time:
to symbolize the bigotry and intolerance directed
at immigrants and dissenters in America.
Stand for PEACE in State College at the Allen Street Gates
College Ave. and Allen Streets, Wednesday 5:00-6:00 and Saturday 1:30-2:30