Friday, February 11, 2011

Legislative Surplus Could Fund adultBasic

Governor Tom Corbett says Pennsylvania's dire finances mean that his administration can't extend a low-cost health insurance plan for 42,000 working adults when the program
runs out of money in less than three weeks. Corbett is blaming his predecessor Ed Rendell for adding people to the rolls of adultBasic but not ensuring there was enough money in place.

However, some state lawmakers want to use the General Assembly's surplus to continue the health insurance program.
Senator Mike Stack, a democrat from Philadelphia, has introduced legislation that would sustain those who stand to lose health coverage at the end of the month when adultBasic expires. The program had been funded by contributions from the Blue Cross/Blue Shields across the state. Senate Bill 420 would allocate the General Assembly’s $188.5 million budget surplus to
fund operating expenses for adultBasic for another year.
Democratic State Senator John Yudichak of Luzerne County says there aren't many funding options..."There are few line items in the budget that have a surplus. Legislative leadership accounts have a surplus. I think this is an important step so that we can continue to provide services."

Stack, the bill's sponsor, says adultBasic must be more accountable....
"It's probably going to be necessary to change how frequently coverage is offered to people on the waiting list. We would also have to look at what's covered, how much is covered and also we may have to ask for folks to get involved with cost-sharing."

Assuming that adultBasic expenses remain at the current $14 million a month. The measure would give the state another year to determine how to help the program survive until federal health care coverage starts up in 2014.

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