FUMO SUPPORTS MORE ADULTBASIC HEALTH COVERAGE
HARRISBURG, June 1, 2004 – State Senator Vince Fumo (D-Philadelphia) promised today to work for increased funding for adultBasic health insurance during state budget negotiations this month.
Fumo, chairman of the Democratic Appropriations Committee, called a Senate Bill introduced today by Sen. Richard Kasunic (D-Fayette) a good first step. The legislation would add 1,500 low-income workers to the state’s adultBasic health insurance program, using $3 million that became available following Auditor General Robert Casey’s examination of Tobacco Settlement Fund payments to hospitals.
"There are still far too many Pennsylvanians without adequate health insurance, including many of the working poor," Fumo said. "We have to find money and methods to expand coverage to those who need it."
Casey’s audit discovered numerous errors, often unintentional, in the relatively new program by which hospitals receive money from the Tobacco Settlement Fund. Some of the proceeds from Pennsylvania’s share of the litigation settlement between states and tobacco product manufacturers in 2001 reimburse hospitals for care they provide to uninsured persons.
The state made the first payments in June of 2002. Funding was based upon data provided by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council.
Casey discovered that some hospitals received overpayment by a total of $7.3 million, while others were underpaid by $4.3 million for some eligible claims.
Once the money is properly redistributed, there will be $3 million left over. Casey has suggested that it be used for the adultBasic program, which provides coverage for uninsured individuals between 19 and 64. Kasunic’s bill seeks to do that.
"The auditor general did an excellent job of studying a new funding system to locate the problems." Fumo said. "Now, by increasing the number of people with health insurance, we can ease the burden slightly on all hospitals who care for those without coverage. But we still have a long way to go."
Although the $3 million available would allow the state to add 1,500 people to the adultBasic rolls, the program currently has a waiting list of about 85,000 eligible people, while serving just over 41,000.
If the General Assembly does not appropriate the $3 million for health insurance, the money would return automatically to the Tobacco Settlement Fund.
Kasunic, the Senate Democratic Policy Committee chairman, held a hearing on the adultBasic program today in Philadelphia, at the request of Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia). Casey was scheduled to present his audit findings.