Next month, money is set to run out on Pennsylvania’s low-cost health insurance program AdultBasic.
Over 42,000 people could be left uninsured once the program ends.
Beneficiaries will have the option to roll over to another low-income plan run by Blue Cross insurers called Special Care.
Jonathan Stein with Community Legal Services in Philadelphia says Special Care’s benefits are “useless.” Coverage is minimal for doctor’s visits and diagnostic services compared to unlimited with AdultBasic. “The entire AdultBasic population could have sought Special Care since Special Care has been around for almost two-decades” he said. “The fact that they’re in AdultBasic means Special Care was unaffordable or inadequate in meeting their heath needs which are pretty severe.”
Special Care is also four-times more expensive. AdultBasic is funded in part by a six-year charitable donation agreement from the Blues. That agreement expired in December.
Stein and other AdultBasic advocates want the Blues to continue to fund the program with money they have in reserve.
Chairman of the Health Committee Matthew Baker said the Blues already finished their commitment. He doesn’t see a resolution to the funding issue. “Whether that can be negotiated with the new incoming governor that has been left with this headache it’s very very perplexing and challenging to say the least in a climate of a 4 billion dollar structural deficit,” said Baker.
Governor Rendell’s press secretary Gary Tuma said this issue might be resolved with negotiations “It’s not a matter of Governor Rendell leaving a headache for the new administration,” said Tuma. “The Blues declined to provide additional funding.” On top of that, Tuma said the legislature could have found additional funding but decided against it. “So the reality is it’s a problem that’s going to occur when funding runs out in February,” he said.
The Blues have agreed to accept all AdultBasic beneficiaries and waive the usual ban on covering pre-existing conditions.