Governor Corbett’s March 8 budget address ended any chance that a state-administered health care plan for low-income Pennsylvanians will be resuscitated. Funds for the program, adultBasic, ran out at the end of February. And the governor announced that part of the funding source for the program, tobacco settlement money, would be moved to the General Fund and used for Public Welfare and other programs.
Under the governor’s plan, a portion of the $342 million from the tobacco settlement would be used to fund Medicaid.
The Department of Public Welfare is predicting that 100,000 more Pennsylvanians will be on Medicaid next fiscal year over the current year.
The tobacco money for adultBasic was fading away before Governor Corbett came to office. In the 2009- 10 budget, the General Assembly allocated $36.6 million for adultBasic. In this year’s budget, $10.6 was allocated, according to figures from the Insurance Department.
The reduction in state funds put more pressure on the Blues carriers, the other funding source for the program, to make up the difference.
“We were not only paying more and more to subsidize the plan, but we resented that we were the only health care carriers asked to pay into the plan,” said an official with one of the Blues. “We were unwilling to keep funding it.
”Under Pennsylvania’s 2001 Tobacco Settlement Act, payments to Pennsylvania were to go to healthrelated programs, such as adultBasic, medical research, Medicaid, and antismoking programs.
The Rendell Administration and the General Assembly increasingly used the tobacco money for other agencies and programs. Some of it went to cover pension obligations for public school employees.