Moral Low Ground


Pennsylvania Cuts 40,000 from Low-Income Health Insurance Program

Pennsylvania’s new health policy for the 40,000 low-income residents cut from a discontinued health insurance program? Don’t get sick.

AdultBasic, the state-run program with $36 monthly premiums for low-income Pennslyvanians that has been helping working-class people afford health care since 2002, is being shut down because the state’s Republican leaders and an insurance company have decided to stop funding it. The program was literally a life-saver for people who weren’t poor enough to qualify for Medicaid and not old enough for Medicare eligibility.

AdultBasic was initially funded with proceeds from the state’s 1998 settlement with tobacco companies. Insurance giant Blue Cross/Blue Shield, which enjoyed an enormous cash surplus, agreed to help finance the program for six years, through the end of 2010. But new Republican governor Tom Corbett and the state legislature’s Republican majority have decided to shut down adultBasic. They knew the program’s funding was running out for months but took no action.

Now some 40,000 people who benefited from adultBasic, which covered many medical expenses including major surgeries, must figure out a way to provide themselves with health insurance.

The Associated Press tells the story of 31-year-old Natalie Ross, a Philadelphia nanny for several families, who had been on adultBasic since 2006. Ross sometimes earns as little as $240/week and says she will now have to rely on her parents for help paying for health insurance. “We’re not sitting around looking for handouts. We’re working and we’re trying to make ends meet,” Ross said. “We’re taking care of people’s kids, we’re working in restaurants and cooking people’s food and working in stores that people shop in, and we’re just trying to keep ourselves healthy and alive, and adultBasic was most of our only hope.”

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  1. april cullingfordMarch 8, 2011 at 1:45 pmReply

    I feel for everyone here. I have had Adult Basic since 2004 with very good coverage and I always experienced great help from the carrier, Unison. I am now forced into a sub-standard coverage from Highmark. I wish something could be done to bring Adult Basic back.

    • Brett WilkinsMarch 8, 2011 at 2:11 pmReplyAuthor

      Best of luck with all your health care needs. It’s absolutely ridiculous that we even have to have this conversation. We’re the only country in the industrialized world without single-payer, universal healthcare. I guess it’s more important to build bombs and continue foreign wars of occupation.

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