State Sens. Mike Stack and Larry Farnese today warned the City of Philadelphia that the end of the state-run adultBasic health plan will have a direct impact on city health services.
“I’m deeply concerned that both the state and the City of Philadelphia will continue to feel the impact from the end of adultBasic,” Stack said. “As the state and city budget deadlines near, we will have to account for a new group of uninsured Philadelphians who will need access to city health services and hospitals.”
Pennsylvania’s adultBasic program, which provided low-cost health care to working Pennsylvanians who made too much to qualify for Medical Assistance, ended on Feb. 28 due to a lack of funding.
More than 6,700 Philadelphians lost their adultBasic coverage, including more than 1,400 from Stack’s Northeast Philadelphia district, which had the second highest number of recipients in the state.
Until the health exchange is implemented under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2014, former adultBasic recipients have few options.
“It’s a disgrace that good hard-working people right here in this city, and across the state, are worried because they can’t afford to be sick,” said state Sen. Larry Farnese, whose 1st Senate District is home to more than 1,300 former adultBasic recipients. “AdultBasic is a vital program that we absolutely must bring back.”
“If adultBasic truly disappears, we will all feel the burden,” Stack said. “Many of these men and women cannot afford the Blues’ Special Care program, so they’re going to turn to city health centers.”
In fact, so far only 7,900 former AdultBasic customers — just 21 percent — have signed up for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Special Care programs.
“The waiting list for a new patient appointment at a city health center averages sixty days,” Stack said. “I understand that the longest waits are for folks from Northeast Philadelphia, so not only will folks from my district lose access to affordable health insurance, they are going to have to wait and wait and wait for an appointment at a city health clinic.”
These individuals may simply turn to the emergency room for medical care.
Locally, Aria Health said it anticipates seeing more bad debt from patients for services, or these patients will simply wait until an ailment requires emergency care.
“We already know our ERs are crowded, in part, because of uninsured patients,” Stack said. “This probable influx of patients will place further burden on doctors, nurses, and the taxpayers who must make up the cost of treating the uninsured.”
Aria supports an opportunity to re-designate a portion of the tobacco settlement funds, which were the original source for adultBasic.
In addition, Stack has authored legislation (Senate Bill 420) would allocate the General Assembly’s $189 million-dollar surplus to fund operating expenses for AdultBasic through April 2012, assuming that expenses remain at $14 million dollars a month.
Stack said he is ready to work with his colleagues on the state and city level to ensure that there are attainable health coverage options for Pennsylvanians.
“It’s a dangerous risk to be without health insurance. And it’s a risk no person should have to take,” Stack said. “I will not let adultBasic fade away.”