Thursday, November 18, 2010

43,000 Pennsylvanians Could Lose Health Insurance

Pennsylvania’s state-run health insurance program for low-income residents could run out of money in the next few months.
The adultBasic website warns its 43-thousand participants their coverage could stop at the end of February.
Pennsylvania’s four Blue Cross/Blue Shield health insurance providers agreed in 2005 to fund the program through the end of this year, but a revenue source hasn’t been agreed to for 2011 onward.
Governor Ed Rendell's spokesman, Gary Tuma, says the solutions are limited.

"If money were to be taken from the General Fund, that would require legislative action. And, of course, there’s not a lot of excess money in the general fund right now, to put it mildly. Or, if funds were to be transferred from some other source, that would most likely require legislative action to approve some sort of fund transfer, assuming one could even be identified."

Tuma says the insurance companies could agree to kick in more money, beyond the extra funds they’ve already given to keep the program running through February.

Kevin Harley, spokesman for Governor-elect Tom Corbett says the new administration wants to see a short-term solution. Why? Because the new health care law will change the landscape.

"Certainly there’s a lawsuit pending, but there are certain provisions that will take effect prior to 2014. And that’s when the law’s supposed to take full effect. There are some that will take effect before that. That will be a priority for Governor Corbett when he takes office, is sitting down and developing a plan and a solution."

A spokesman for Pittsburgh-based Highmark Blue Cross says the company is paying 32 million dollars more than it initially agreed to, in order to extend adultBasic into 2011. Mike Weinstein says Highmark and the three other Blue Cross/Blue Shield affiliates want to see a more widespread funding formula, if adultBasic goes forward.

Tobacco settlement money also funds adultBasic, but that revenue source is shrinking as well.

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