A new round of letters is going out to former enrollees in adultBasic, the Pennsylvania insurance program for low-income adults that ran out of funding March 1. The letters outline specific Medicaid programs they may qualify for. State officials said those who were previously covered under adultBasic would be eligible for Medicaid only if their circumstances have changed since their last yearly enrollment period–if income has dropped, for example, or their health has changed.
But John Stein with Community Legal Services of Philadelphia argues that it is likely that up to half of those who were on adultBasic were also eligible for some benefits under Medical Assistance, the state’s Medicaid program, at the same time, and they did not know of that option when their adultBasic coverage ran out. “The fact is that MA or medical assistance is such a complicated program that even many people in state government have little understanding of its intricacies and eligibility criteria,” Stein said. Stein said the letters represent help that is long overdue, and that the state agreed to send them out after his organization threatened a lawsuit. The Pennsylvania Insurance Department would neither confirm nor deny the claim, and pointed to two previous letters sent out to those enrolled in adultBasic that encouraged them to look into coverage under the state’s Medicaid program. Meanwhile, a judge has denied an injunction that would have prevented the state’s tobacco settlement money from going into the general fund. Part of that money used to fund the adultBasic program; a class-action lawsuit is asking that some of the money be returned to that purpose.