Pensylvania health care for low income families in danger

Low income family health careThe low-cost health insurance program for Pennsylvania is on shaky ground today.  Providing coverage for more than 40,000 adults, the program is in deep danger of being shut down due to dwindling funds.  In a recent announcement, Governor Ed Rendell office stated that money for this program will run dray by the end of February. Governor-elect Tom Corbett is encouraging the state’s nonprofit health insurance providers to allow enrollees into “Special Care” plans, funded by insurers.

On Tuesday, spokespeople for Highmark and Independent Blue Cross said that the subsidized Special Care programs are tailored for low-income adults and families and offer monthly premiums at rates several times the cost of the state’s “adultBasic” program.

The adultBasic program provides bare-bones coverage for those in the low-income grey zone; those who are not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, but not old enough to qualify for Medicare. The average monthly premium for this coverage is $36, and does not include dental care or prescription drugs.

Corbett is invested in the continuation of the adultBasic program – his negotiations have been successful thus far, however, premiums may rise as high as $190 per month.

“It’s not ideal,” said Tom Paese, co-director of Corbett’s transition team. “But, guess what? It’s a lot better than having no insurance option at all.”

Currently, 400,000 people are waiting to receive adultBasic coverage. According to Corbett’s transition team, only 28% of those at the top of the waiting list qualified for the coverage plan at all.

Though unusual for an incoming administration to take such bold steps in negotiating policies before they have fully come into power, Corbett seems to have had little choice when faced with a fast approaching deadline.

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