KENNETT SQUARE >> State lawmakers, county officials and municipal leaders honored former Congressman Joseph Pitts Tuesday for his efforts to protect senior citizens during his 44-year tenure in office.
“Congressman Pitts was willing to fight to protect the welfare and rights of our frailest seniors,” said George V. Hager Jr., chief executive officer of Genesis Health Care, where the ceremony was held. “We cannot thank Congressman Pitts enough for his unending support of the seniors we care for every day.”
Rep. Eric Roe (R-158th Dist.) who represents the same one Pitts did when he was a state representative from 1973 to 1996, said Pitts is his idol.
“When I was campaigning, and knocking on 10,000 doors, some people asked me why I was running,” Roe said. “Most of the time I gave them the political answer, which is to take care of our schools, take care of our seniors, property tax burdens and tort reform, and that’s true. But sometimes I would just spit out the real reason -- I want to be like Congressman Pitts. He is a man of deep conviction, and I have huge shoes to fill.”
County Commissioner Terrence Farrell presented Pitts with a citation, and told the crowd that Pitts was always trying to improve health care delivery and gave diligent attention to the needs of local senior citizens.
“I am here to celebrate all the people’s lives you have touched,” Farrell told Pitts.
Earl Baker, a former Chester County commissioner for 12 years and a former state senator, said if Pitts was still in office, the problems trying to find an alternative to the American Health Care Act would be resolved.
“Wherever he went, he gravitated to the most important committees where he could make his influence felt,” Baker said.
Pitts, who was a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee (which has jurisdiction over Medicaid and Medicare Part B issues), said he was honored to receive recognition for his work to provide affordable health care for seniors.
“Genesis Health Care means so much not just in Chester County but in the entire commonwealth,” Pitts said. “It’s so important to provide care to the elderly, and especially the frail and disabled.”
Pitts predicted that lawmakers will come to a compromise on the American Health Care Act currently being debated and will not eliminate pre-existing conditions, or the condition giving coverage to children age 26 or under on their parents’ insurance.
“But the problem will come later,” Pitts said. “I think there will be changes in the Medicaid program. The first thing they (lawmakers) will do is that the 100 percent match from the feds will no longer be there, and they will go to 90 percent, and even lower for new people”
Pitts said he is enjoying retirement.
“It’s great to be retired,” Pitts said. “I don’t have to beg for money, and I don’t’ have to worry about campaigns.”
Genesis Health Care provides short-term, long-term and senior living care to approximately 60,000 patients, with 47 facilities located in Pennsylvania, serving about 5,000 patients every day.