Corbett, lawmakers sued over ending adultBasic

    Gov. Tom Corbett and the Pennsylvania General Assembly are being sued for allowing the adultBasic health insurance program for low-income adults to expire.

    Three former adultBasic members in the Pittsburgh area filed a class-action lawsuit in Commonwealth Court Monday. The suit claims the state is violating the 2001 Tobacco Settlement Act by diverting funds set aside for the adultBasic program to other uses.

    “We believe it’s in violation of the Pennsylvania constitution as well as the statute,” said Bill Caroselli, the plaintiff’s lawyer. “There is no ability on behalf of either the Legislature or the executive branch to defund this program.”

    According to Caroselli, the law mandates that 30 percent of the settlement money Pennsylvania gets should go to adultBasic and Medicaid for workers with disabilities. The tobacco fund money has been used for other programs for years as money from private insurers funded adultBasic.

    The suit asks for a portion of the $370 million in tobacco settlement funds coming to the state next month to be frozen until there is a decision on the case.

    The lead plaintiff in the suit, Sheryl Sears, 63, from McKeesport, said she hopes the suit will accomplish what last-ditch efforts in the Legislature could not.

    “I’d like to think that if enough of us pull together,” Sears said, “there’s a possibility we can move this. We gotta believe it.”

    Sears, an at-home child-care provider, switched to another insurance program when adultBasic ended March 1. She said she will not be able to afford the more expensive premiums for long.

    Governor Corbett’s office said the case is without merit, and the adultBasic program is not financially sustainable.

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