AdultBasic Health Plan Running Out of Money

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Jointly released with the Pennsylvania Health Access Network

Blues committed to fund adultBasic through June 2011; Governor-elect Corbett must ensure they keep that commitment until a permanent solution is found

Nearly 43,000 Pennsylvanians enrolled in adultBasic will lose their health insurance early next year unless quick action is taken to resolve a funding crisis facing the program.

AdultBasic, which insures many working Pennsylvanians without health coverage, will run out of funding within weeks of Governor-elect Tom Corbett’s inauguration in January, according to Rendell administration officials quoted in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer .The newspaper reported that adultBasic is underfunded by $54 million in the 2010-11 Fiscal Year.

The state’s four Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans agreed in 2005, amid concerns about their fund surpluses, to help fund adultBasic, which provides no-frills health coverage to uninsured adults earning up to 200% of the poverty level. That agreement was scheduled to expire in December, but earlier this year the Blues agreed to extend their contributions to adultBasic through June 2011.

Rendell administration officials, however, say the Blues’ contributions are not enough to sustain adultBasic beyond early 2011, meaning that thousands of working Pennsylvanians are at risk of losing their health coverage early next year.

“The Blues committed to continue funding adultBasic through June 2011,” said Sharon Ward, Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and a member of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network. “It is incumbent upon Governor-elect Tom Corbett to ensure that the Blues maintain that commitment and make sufficient contributions to fully fund adultBasic until a permanent solution is worked out.”

The funding agreement has not hampered the Blues’ profitability. Their surpluses, at $5.6 billion in 2009, were more than $1 billion larger than when the agreement was signed in 2005, according to a July report from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and Pennsylvania Health Access Network.

“The Blues have seen their surpluses grow two-and-a-half times faster than Pennsylvania wages since 2002,” said Antoinette Krauss, an organizer with the Pennsylvania Health Access Network. “They should be able to put some of that toward keeping thousands of Pennsylvanians from losing their health insurance.”

AdultBasic, which was launched in 2001 under former Governor Tom Ridge, is needed now more than ever as a bridge for uninsured Pennsylvanians until the federal Affordable Care Act takes full effect in 2014.

“I am a single working mom with Lyme Disease," said Kathy Dabanian of Sellersville, Pa. "AdultBasic allowed me to receive the much needed care I needed. I was later diagnosed with a pre-cancerous condition of the cervix which needed an operation. Without adultBasic, I would not have had the proper diagnosis and would most likely have died from cervical cancer.”

In the wake of the recession, the adultBasic waiting list has exploded by more than 400% - to nearly 464,000 in November.

Between 2000-01 and 2008-09, Pennsylvania also has seen the largest decline in the number of residents insured by employer policies - second only to Michigan. Employers provided health insurance to 876,000 fewer Pennsylvanians in 2008 and 2009 than at the start of the decade, according to an Economic Policy Institute report analyzing U.S. Census data. Read a press release about that report here.

 

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