tv NBC10 Issue NBC October 29, 2017 11:30am-12:01pm EDT
the change we need. that may have more of an impact on your life than any other. we're talking about the race for pennsylvania commonwealth court. today, we'll meet the local candidates and explain the importance of this powerful court. fact check, president donald trump says insurance companies are making a fortune on obamacare. today, our partners at factcheck.org get to the bottom of the president's claim. we'll tell you what they discovered and how it affects your wallet. kelsey connell: my name is kelsey, i'm 5 years old. i take a needle, and i really don't like it. rosemary: a little girl with a giant problem, a rare disease that makes her hurt all over. this morning, how the people who love little kelsey are fighting to raise awareness about her condition, and why it matters to all of us. male announcer: "nbc10@issue" starts now. rosemary: good morning, i'm rosemary connors for "nbc10@issue."
it packs a powerful punch, affecting your life in ways you most likely never think about. it's the pennsylvania commonwealth court. the court is important in the daily lives of pennsylvania residents, reviewing local and state government matters, including litigation involving the state police and department of human services. issues heard by the commonwealth court include voting rights, civil rights, tax appeals, collective bargaining decisions, eminent domain, unemployment appeals, and environmental protection. joining me now are two of the local candidates running for pennsylvania commonwealth court, republican christine fizzano cannon, whose a judge on the delaware county common pleas court, and democrat ellen ceisler, who's a judge on the philadelphia common pleas court. thank you both for being with us. christine fizzano cannon: good morning, thank you. rosemary: so, first let's explain to viewers why the commonwealth court matters, and what the impact is on their daily lives. christine: well, it certainly does matter. it's a unique court in our country. it's one of two intermediate appellate courts in pennsylvania between the trial court and the supreme court.
and while it doesn't sound that interesting to the average citizen when you describe it because it hears appeals of regulatory agencies and state agencies, and matters concerning government entities, the trickle-down effect that that has on individuals and businesses and communities in pennsylvania is really tremendous. it can affect pennsylvanians on all different levels. rosemary: judge ceisler? ellen ceisler: well, first of all, again, it is a fascinating court. it is the only court, state court that exists like it in the entire united states. any way that the government can touch your life could eventually end up as in the commonwealth court. and so, this court also has what's called appellate jurisdiction, so it would--cases that are appealed from the local and county government agencies would end up in the commonwealth court. but the commonwealth court also has what's called original jurisdiction, which means the commonwealth court judges can actually be trial judges, and that's when they bring civil lawsuits against the state, whether it's a state agency, the governor, the legislature. so, you sit as both the trial judge in matters--
civil matters and litigation against the state, and appeals from the counties on all issues related to government. so, the jurisdiction and the issues before this court are profound. they can affect every pennsylvanian with one decision, or they can affect an individual on a very basic and profound level. rosemary: let's talk about some specific examples, maybe pennsylvanians who think that their civil rights have been violated, or maybe that the government is overstepping its bounds in taking some of their property related to eminent domain. christine: one of the most significant areas that the commonwealth court handles are matters concerning government entities. so, the actions that the government has taken are seen by the commonwealth court and scrutinized by that court. so, the decisions that they make can then impact individuals. you had mentioned zoning issues. i have experience in land use as an attorney and also as a zoning hearing board. that's one member that--that's one area that directly affects individuals in that it controls how they are able to use
their property and what the zoning regulations are for their property. there's also matters concerning municipal entities. i have been a municipal solicitor, a township commissioner, and a county commissioner, which has given me a nice foundation for this particular court because matters concerning government entities are heard by the court. but those matters that are heard, although they are directly concerning those government entities, will impact individuals, and certainly tax assessments and issues involving nonprofits, open records, liquor control, and so on. ellen: and think about your driver's license. penn dot is a state agency. so, if you've lost your driver's license, you feel it was taken away improperly and should be reinstated, and you know a driver's license can make or break someone-- a family's livelihood. so, the commonwealth court would be pretty much the court of last resort if you're challenging the reinstatement of your driver's license. professional licenses if you're a nurse, if you're a teacher, if you're a pharmacist,
if you have any kind of state license for a profession and you believe that that was taken away from you, it would ultimately end up in the commonwealth court. worker's compensation and unemployment compensation. if you believe that you were hurt on the job and you didn't get a fair shake, or if you lost your--you were laid off, you know, you appeal through administrative boards, but ultimately if you feel if either the agencies or the individuals feel they've been aggrieved, the commonwealth court hears these cases. so, any way that the government can touch your life in some form or fashion could end up in the commonwealth court. rosemary: especially if it's touching your wallet, something that everybody is interested in. what kinds of high profile issues are currently before the court, maybe coming before the court if either or both of you is elected to this office? ellen: well--did you want to go? christine: go ahead. ellen: well, first and foremost, you know-- rosemary: a polite forum here on "nbc10@issue." ellen: i have tremendous respect for christine,
for judge fizzano cannon, i always have. so, there's two very high profile cases before the court right now. one of them is the partisan gerrymandering. so, there was a lawsuit that was recently brought by the league of women voters and a number of other named plaintiffs, where they're challenging how pennsylvania has district-- the congressional districts. so, that is a very high profile case that is before the commonwealth court. there was also the education funding lawsuit that was brought, where there were challenges to how we fund the very school districts, and whether that constitutional or not. now, that case was before the commonwealth court, which just threw the case out basically on preliminary objections. it was appealed to the pennsylvania supreme court, who has issued very recently, i think it was about a week and a half ago, 2 weeks ago, an opinion which has remanded it to the commonwealth court, and will leave it up to the commonwealth court judges to now do extensive discovery and hearings on that issue. so, those are two key issues that are before the court. christine: and i think you make an interesting point too,
ellen, that it's not just the cases that are currently before the commonwealth court, but decisions that the supreme court makes as well that will make an impact on the future decisions of the commonwealth court. and we've seen that recently with the pratt's case, which concerned worker's compensation issues, and whether or not the american medical association was or was not the correct gauge for determining the impairment in a particular matter. and now we're seeing the impact of that decision on the commonwealth court, and what impact it will have retroactively possibly in moving forward. there's also very exciting issues in pennsylvania with regarding--with regard to environmental issues, and the constitution of pennsylvania as it relates to those, and the interpretation of that. so, recent supreme court decisions will trickle down to the commonwealth court, and then you'll see some interesting things coming out of that court in the future. rosemary: environmental issues related to fracking? christine: there's--there is a recent case with regard to the constitutional amendment to the pennsylvania constitution with regard to pennsylvanians' rights to clean air,
and clean water, and so on. and so, that determination and whether or not a litmus test should be applied to that was recently decided in the supreme court. and so, now new matters coming for commonwealth court will have that law that will be taken into consideration. it may be fracking, it may be other issues. rosemary: two people can be elected to this court in the election. could be one of you, could be both of you, could be neither of you. what's your pitch to voters out there? first, in terms of why should they should go to the polls. as we know, voter turnout can be low in these elections that are not in presidential election years. and why should you be elected? christine: well, thank you for doing this today because it does increase the amount of information that people have going to the polls. i believe i have the experience, the ability, and the integrity to perform in an outstanding manner on the court. i have 23 years of experience as a trial court judge, an attorney, and a special prosecutor. i'm a trial court judge now in delaware county, where i have the civil division. i've closed over 1,500 cases doing that, and i hear matters
that are currently appealable to the commonwealth court. i started earlier to explain to you some of the background that i have, like being a zoning hearing board member, and previously being a township commissioner and a county commissioner. those roles that i've had, have also given me a unique foundation for this particular court. i'm also very proud that i'm the only candidate in the race who's received the highest rating of highly recommended for the commonwealth court by the pennsylvania bar association judicial evaluation commission. and they indicated after their investigation that they believe that i was capable of outstanding performance on the court, and that i possess the highest combination of experience, ability, integrity, and demeanor for the court. rosemary: judge ceisler? ellen: well, again, i also want to thank nbc for letting us come on to the show because, again, most people don't pay attention to the judges. we're very removed from everyday society, and we should be as judges. so, it's odd to run as a judge, it's odd to run in a partisan
election as a judge for all kinds of reasons. and so, any way we can get our names, and our positions, and our experience out there we appreciate. so, i am running for this court because i am, first of all, fascinated and passionate about the issues, and i truly believe that i can make a difference to individuals and pennsylvanians. my experience is that i have been a sitting judge for 10 years in philadelphia. i have had experience in the criminal division, the trial division, but i also sat for several years in an appellate capacity handling commonwealth court cases. all of the appeals of my county's government agencies i handled, so i became very familiar with the commonwealth court, and wrote quite a few opinions to the commonwealth court, so i'm very familiar with its jurisdiction and how it operates. it's a very complex court, where the judges need to be able to understand and balance state law, regulatory law, statutory law, constitutional law, common law, and it's all mixed up. you know, it can be all combined, and you really
have to piece it-- you know, put it together. rosemary: you touched on something in the beginning about, you know, being impartial on the court. and i think with any campaign, and certainly both of you are running campaigns, there's donations, funding, support. and so, how do you tell voters, "look, if you elect me, i will truly be an impartial, nonpartisan person deciding these very important issues that touch, as you mentioned, your everyday life, certainly your wallet, and your livelihood." ellen: well, it is unfortunate that this is the system we have for becoming judges, there's just no way around it. but i do have--i have been a judge for 10 years, and i can assure you that whatever i had to do to win an election will--has never for 10 years and will never affect what i do on the bench. and i'm proud of the fact that, after 30 years as an attorney and 10 years on the bench, the bar association found that i have an established reputation for independence, integrity, fairness, and thoroughness. rosemary: on that note, judge fizzano cannon,
you get the last word here. christine: i think that it's very important for people to understand, as a judge, i apply it now, will apply as a commonwealth court, the platform and motto that courteousness and respect is what everyone will receive in my courtroom. and that really goes a long way into making the litigant, and also everybody involved in the system, have a tremendous amount of trust and confidence in the system. i also will make decisions that are fair, impartial, and free from bias. i do that now in my position, and will continue to do that. rosemary: all right, judge fizzano cannon, judge ceisler, thank you both for coming in, really appreciate it. ellen: thank you for having us. rosemary: now, two other candidates are in the race, democrat irene mclaughlin clark, who is a former judge in the pittsburg municipal court, and republican paul lalley, a lawyer in the pittsburg area. there are two open seats, as i mentioned, so voters will choose two candidates on november 7. next on "nbc10@issue," our partners from factcheck.org weigh in on the president's suggestion that insurance companies are getting rich on obamacare subsidies.
that's why he stood up to republicans and democrats alike to fight the north jersey casinos and the takeover of atlantic city. chris brown is fighting to protect jobs in our region... a true champion for the working men and women of atlantic county. on november 7th, let's keep him fighting for us. chris brown for state senate, he's on our side.
insurance companies have taken advantage of this country through the affordable care act, making a fortune. so, the president took a big step to stop it. but our partners at factcheck.org say the president's comments are misleading at best. nbc10's erin coleman has the details. erin coleman: it's true, health insurance companies are making money. one industry analyst reports an increase in net income of 46% from 2015 to 2016. president donald trump says obamacare is one of the reasons. bert farley: that's misleading at best. erin: factcheck.org says the insurance companies made money in spite of obamacare, not because of it. bert: insurers have lost millions, if not billions of dollars in those marketplaces. they got a little bit sicker than they expected pool of applicants. that's why insurance rates have gone up so dramatically in a number of states.
erin: in mid-october, president trump made a stunning announcement, saying he'd scrap critical cost-sharing subsidies to help insurance companies for low-income people. donald trump: this is money that goes to the insurance companies to line their pockets, to raise up their stock prices, and they've had a record run. they've had an incredible run, and it's not appropriate. erin: the president pointed to four insurance companies seeing a rise in stocks. bert: two of those insurance companies, aetna and humana, have pulled out of the affordable care act marketplaces for 2018. and the other two have scaled back the number of states and counties in which they're going to offer plans. erin: as far as the subsidies lining insurance companies pockets, not the case says factcheck.org. bert: this is money that offsets the cost of deductibles for low-income people. they're paid to the insurance companies to offset those costs. insurance companies said that if the government cuts those off, which the president has since done, they're going to have to rates for a lot of those folks. erin: factcheck.org adds obamacare actually limits
the amount of profit insurers can make. eighty percent of premiums must go to healthcare costs. the remaining 20% can go to overhead, administration costs, and profits. scott: when they exceed that, they have to give rebates to the customers, and they've paid hundreds of millions of dollars of rebates in the last couple years to customers. erin: i'm erin coleman for "nbc10@issue." rosemary: last week, a judge ruled that the government does not have to restore the cut-off federal healthcare subsidies. eighteen states had sued to resume the payments that help low-income americans. also this, a new study found that people not eligible for subsidies will soon face sharp increases in the cost of their premiums. next on "nbc10@issue," a grandmother on a mission. she's working to find a cure for her granddaughter's rare disease. how you can help when we come right back. ♪
rosemary: let's hope we can find a cure. kelsey connell is 6 years old. she suffers from a rare disease called polyarteritis nodosa, or pan. the potentially fatal disease causes blood vessels to stretch and weaken, it damages the internal organs, and there is no cure. joining me now is kelsey's mother, jennifer connell, and grandmother, mary wagner, both of south jersey. thank you so much for being with us today. mary wagner: thank you for having us. rosemary: so first, tell us about the disease and how it affects kelsey. mary: well, kelsey is never okay. outwardly, she looks fine like any other 6-year-old little girl. but inside, her blood vessels and her inflammatory markers are high. this time last year, she was hospitalized. so, she has--she has a disease, and she does the best she can. jennifer connell: she does. and at times, because of her autoimmune condition, a common cold will take double or triple the amount of time
to go away. so, every new addition in her life seems to be more complex as a result of this as well. rosemary: this really has become your mission to spread the word about this disease known as pan, and also to raise awareness for rare diseases everywhere that aren't getting the proper funding, attention that they should be. mary: that's correct, rosemary. i could no sit by on the sidelines and watch my granddaughter suffer, and no one had an answer. so, we took it upon ourselves to start our nonprofit, and we've been up about a year and a half so far, and we've had numerous fundraisers. pat stakes was involved, softball events. we have an annual gala that we're doing this year, and the response has been overwhelming. rosemary: is the goal to raise funds for research? mary: it is. it is for research and awareness. this disease has just been diagnosed 3 years ago. there are probably other children that have it that don't know they have it, so we also want to bring awareness
to the disease. rosemary: and why do you think there is such a lack of government focus on it? jennifer: partially i would say due to the national institute of health, who's been a great proponent for us, and if fact helped us find what it was after 3 years of no one being able to correctly identify it. i think that's a piece of it. but because it is rare and because it is unknown, i don't know if they feel there's enough of an emphasis to support it and a rationale to do so. rosemary: enough people affected by it, enough people sounding the alarm, "hey, this is important and we want to get the word out." mary: yes, and it's also international. last year, we attended an international conference. polyarteritis nodosa is a manifestation of an ada2 deficiency, which is a gene deficiency. and there is an organization for that, and they brought researchers and doctors from all over the world, israel, italy, switzerland, london, nih. and it was a great success, they're sharing data,
and they're making great strides in the research of this disorder. rosemary: you mentioned it a moment ago that you felt like, because of the lack of support out there--i mean, you mentioned, obviously, the nih has been a wonderful partner in helping you come to the conclusion of what was happening with kelsey. but you mentioned because of the lack of support generally that's out there, that you had to start your own nonprofit. what do you say to other parents out there whose children may be affected by a rare disease who don't know where to turn? mary: well, i did, i tried to say this at the convention, "please contact me, i will help you do it." it's not that hard. and once you start, you don't know where it's going to take you. i didn't think it would ever take me here. and it's just a wonderful feeling to know that i am helping my granddaughter in the only way that i know how to. and that's-- jennifer: but at the same time, i would also say that it's sometimes hard to talk about it. it's hard to outwardly express what you're feeling.
so, having support and avenues to do so in a community where you feel will respond and help you get to your mission i think is important. because once you do start speaking, you'll be surprised at what you find as a result. rosemary: how is kelsey doing? jennifer: i would say today she's okay. i don't think there's a day the people look at her and see she looks great and healthy. inside, we have battles and struggles. and when she is going to bed and her leg hurts, you know, it triggers alarms for us. and the medication that she's on, which is an injection weekly, is needed weekly. but for most patients, it's needed every 2 weeks. so, for her it's weekly, and a year ago it was ineffective, so we had to change. so, we're in an okay place, but i don't know that we're ever actually okay. rosemary: we'll continue to keep her in our thoughts and in our prayers. and we should mention, as you said in the beginning, you do a lot of fundraising efforts, so we want to make sure that that gets out there. you have a fundraiser coming up, it's for kelsey. it happens on november 24 from 7 in the evening until 11.
as our schools came under attack, critical services were underfunded, and our credit rating was downgraded...11 times. from the bridge to the beach, we've seen it all, and we've had enough. kim guadagno isn't the change we need. kim guadagno isn't rosemary: one of philadelphia's finest, a four-legged member of the fire department, retired this week. chance retired after six and a half years on the job as an arson and explosives detecting canine. his human colleagues say chance has been to about 900 fire scenes, and once found a firebomb before anybody got hurt. chance will enjoy his golden years living with his human partner. that's it for this edition of "nbc10@issue." join us next week for a discussion with the two candidates running for philadelphia district attorney. have a great sunday and a great week ahead. ♪
he's a husband, father, veteran... but most of all, he's a fighter. chris brown has never been afraid to take on the big fights. that's why he stood up to republicans and democrats alike to fight the north jersey casinos and the takeover of atlantic city. chris brown is fighting to protect jobs in our region... a true champion for the working men and women of atlantic county. on november 7th, let's keep him fighting for us. chris brown for state senate, he's on our side.