Rendell proposes modest expansion of adultBasic

Governor Ed Rendell, speaking February 4 to the joint session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, described his budget plan for the fiscal year that will begin July 1, 2009.  One of the items in his plan is a modest expansion of adultBasic, the state-subsidized health insurance plan for uninsured adults.

Currently that program serves around 45,000 individuals with 180,000 on the waiting list.  According to a PA Department of Insurance survey released January 29, nearly 900,000 working-age Pennsylvanians were without health insurance during the period September, 2007 through May, 2008.

Growing number of Pennsylvania adults uninsured

The number of Pennsylvania adults without health insurance is up sharply from 2004, according to a Pennsylvania Insurance Department survey released January 29. 

883,000 working-age Pennsylvanians lacked coverage in early 2008, an increase of 17 percent from 2004 when a simlar survey showed 755,000 uninsured. 

Speaking at a news conference at the Capitol, Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario emphasized that due to the recession and the large number of lay-offs, the number of uninsured has certainly increased since the completion of the survey in May. 

Many unemployed can not afford COBRA

For each 1 percent increase in the national unemployment rate, another 1.1 million people join the ranks of the uninsured. 

Most of those laid off from a job with a health plan have the option to buy continued coverage under that plan.  This option was established by COBRA legislation passed by Congress in 1985.

Hospital reduces staff due to recession

The Wyoming Valley Health Care System is laying off 15 employees due to recession-related financial difficulties.  Another 55 vacant positions will not be filled.

The news is reported by the Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice in its January 15 edition.

Insurance costs, the Blues’ surpluses, and Blues’ merger explored

In a 5-day series of articles published by the Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice and the Sranton Times-Tribune, health reporter Daniel Axelrod has examined the problem of rising health insurance rates by focusing on the actions of Pennsylvania's nonprofit Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurers.

The articles include a variety of perspectives and a wealth of specific data.

Following is a list of articles: