Health programs keep their favored status in Governor Rendell’s health care budget proposal.
While Governor Rendell is proposing cuts to all types of programs, he wants to expand health care spending by more than $800 million.
One big change is a bid to double the size of Pennsylvania’s AdultBasic program. That’s the state-sponsored health insurance plan for low-income people ages 19 to 64. Ann Torregrossa leads the Governor’s Office of Health Care Reform.
“We see this expanded AdultBasic program as a state bridge to universal federal coverage,” she said.
To grow the program and qualify for federal dollars she says Pennsylvania needs to add prescription drug and mental health benefits to the AdultBasic plan. About 50,000 people are enrolled now, but state officials say the number of Pennsylvanians on the waiting list has spiked in recent weeks.
“With 183,000 people on the waiting list we just absolutely can’t leave those federal funds laying out there,” Torregrossa said.
Skeptics say the governor’s health spending plan relies heavily on the federal stimulus package which is still in flux.
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