January 07, 2011

PARA Statement on the Future of AdultBasic

Jean Friday, President of the Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans, released the following statement on the impending demise of the AdultBasic program:

AdultBasic is a low-cost health insurance program that people who make a little too much to qualify for Medicaid can buy into.  It services tens of thousands of people in our state, some of whom would die without coverage and have pre-existing conditions that prevent them from getting any that is affordable.  It’s worth repeating, that this program is not a handout for the destitute.  This is for working people who don’t get insurance from their job, and can’t afford it on their own.

The Non-profit Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans help fund it because they have a $5.6 billion surplus, but still tax-exempt status as “charitable entities”.  However, their contribution will end unless our governor and legislators step up to find a real solution.  Tom Corbett said he was for at least a 6 month extension which would have brought us to July.  Now that he’s about to be governor he is threatening to make one of his first acts of office reneging on that support and leaving tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians without coverage until the Insurance Exchanges created by Health Care Reform are active in 2014. 

Corbett’s “plan” is to offer folks losing their AdultBasic coverage the “option” of signing up for Special Care, a private insurance product the Blues have had for years which is probably worse than having no insurance at all.  Tom Corbett’s office thinks putting these people into another program that costs 400% more and has limited coverage is an acceptable solution.  It’s not. It’s an outrage that Corbett’s team is even pushing that as a viable option. It’s unbelievably expensive and terribly inadequate coverage, especially for people with pre-existing conditions or more chronic health problems. It limits people to 4 DR’s visits/year BUT STILL COSTS $140/month and doesn’t include RXs, dental, vision, or mental health. It’s awful and not a solution—and they know it.

While Corbett the candidate said he supported a 6-month extension, it seems that Corbett the incoming Governor has no intention of keeping that pledge. No big surprise, considering that all but three of the 17 people appointed by Corbett to shape state insurance policy have direct ties to the insurance industry and the co-chair of Corbett’s transition team is a lobbyist with a firm that represents Highmark.

Read about Corbett’s campaign pledge here:  http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/regional/s_692453.html

The stakes are too high—life and death for many people. People like Roseann, a mother of 2 from Perkasie, PA and OJ, a trash hauler in Erie who has prostate cancer and who said today when the bad news was broken to him: “I don’t know what I’m going to do now, I may as well say I’m dead.”

We can’t afford to lose this fight.

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