Expanding PA's state health plan

    Pennsylvania wants federal dollars to provide health insurance for more adults.

    There’s a two-year waiting list to enroll in Pennsylvania’s state-supported health insurance plan called AdultBasic. Governor Rendell says he has a plan to double the number of people who get their health care through the program. [audio:sci20090324basic.mp3]

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    AdultsBasic costs Pennsylvania 200 million dollars a year.

    Adams:The proposal is to try to get half of the cost covered by the federal government, which would then allow us to take the same resources we are using now to cover 45,000 people and then we would be able to cover 90,000 people.

    Peter Adams is Pennsylvania’s Deputy Insurance Commissioner. To qualify for federal dollars, Adams says the state needs to upgrade the benefits package for AdultBasic. Right now the plan does not offer prescription drug coverage or behavioral health services.

    Republican Edwin Erickson leads the public health committee in the state Senate. He also wants to move people off the AdultBasic waiting list, but favors a tax on smokeless tobacco to pay for the expansion. At last count, more than 800,000 adults in Pennsylvania had no health insurance.

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