NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

BILL TO EXPAND PENN. HEALTH INSURANCE SPARKS DEBATE

July 7, 2009

The Pennsylvania House voted last week in favor to increase the number of individuals receiving state sponsored health insurance from 45,000 to 90,000, says the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The state sponsored health insurance, known as adultBasic, is designed for people who earn too much to qualify for poverty programs such as Medicaid but can't afford insurance themselves:

  • An individual is eligible for adultBasic if he or she earns $21,600 or less; a family of four can earn $44,000 or less.
  • The program can't currently meet rising demand; the waiting list, officials say, is growing by 20,000 a month and projects 270,000 as of today; a year ago, it was at 96,000.
  • The cost of expanding adultBasic -- $130 million -- will be paid with federal Medicaid funds available through a special waiver.

According to critics:

  • It is unwise to expand the program when the state faces a $3 billion budget shortfall.
  • The current plan to finance the expansion is short-sighted; Pennsylvania should wait to see how the federal government decides to proceed with national health care policy before enacting a major expansion of its own insurance program.

Source: Michael Vitez and Heather J. Chin, "Bill to Expand Pennsylvania Health Insurance Sparks Debate," Philadelphia Inquirer, July 1, 2009.

 

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