Health care included in federal stimulus bill

The final version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the so-called Stimulus Bill) includes important provisions related to health care. Here is a summary of key provisions.

Governor’s proposal falls far short of need

Governor Rendell's plan to expand the adultBasic program to 90,000 individuals is drawing mixed reactions from consumer advocates.

Foremost is distress over the fact that while the adultBasic waiting list is approaching 200,000 people, only an additional 45,000 individuals would be covered by the Governor's plan. 

Mitigating the disappointment is recognition the Commonwealth faces a severe fiscal crisis and appreciation for the Governor's persistent advocacy for the uninsured. 

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.