Protestors Rally To Save AdultBasic Health Insurance

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A state-run health insurance program that insures thousands of people in this region comes to an end at midnight.

And it could be the first of many state budget cuts pushed by Governor Corbett over the next few months to balance the state’s budget.

If you work and your employer doesn’t offer health insurance, that’s where AdultBasic comes in.

Originally funded with tobacco settlement dollars from the state and donations from Highmark and Blue Cross, AdultBasic has been a life-saver.

But Corbett says the state has run out of money for this program and that has many angry and worried.

The crowd chanted, “Save AdultBasic. Do the right thing. Save AdultBasic.”

They rallied in Market Square. Some are losing health insurance because Corbett says the state has no money for this program.

“We know this act of letting AdultBasic die is just the first of many more attacks to come on hard working families who are struggling every day to make ends meet and stay afloat in this economy,” Erin Gill of the PA Health Access Network told the crowd.

AdultBasic provides inexpensive health insurance for those who earn too much for the state’s Medicaid program or who are self-employed or have employers who do not provide insurance, like local artist Alison Zapata of Friendship.

“I’m pregnant at this time – three months pregnant. And at two months I found out that I was being…the AdultBasic program was being cut,” she told KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano.

She’s not alone. AdultBasic covers over 11,000 people in the 10-county area with 100,000 on the local waiting list.

Nick Balandiat of Baldwin is on coumadin.

“If you take one pill in this country, you become uninsurable and AdultBasic was actually a Godsend to me when it was available. I could have my blood tested, and for me it’s like a life or death issue.”

Delano: “Have you met with Governor Corbett on this?”

“We have not. We’ve had trouble reaching Governor Corbett on this issue,” says Beth Heeb of the Consumer Health Coalition.

Consumer health advocates say Corbett has been inaccessible and insensitive.

“We’ve been just flooded with calls from individuals that are just beside themselves, and we have no option for them.”

Corbett met briefly with U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius at the White House Monday morning. KDKA’s Jon Delano asked her, via satellite, whether the governor raised the AdultBasic issue.

“He did not.”

Sebelius says, under the president’s Affordable Care Act, everyone eligible for AdultBasic will get health insurance in 2014. But in the meantime, it’s up to the states.

“This bridge period is a tough time,” admits Sebelius. “We have given states extra resources. We’re trying to work around Medicaid eligibility and flexibility, but it was a choice in Pennsylvania to end this program.”

Now some state legislators have proposed ways to fund AdultBasic, and Corbett’s office says the governor may be open to some ideas.

In the meantime, Corbett says AdultBasic users should explore private insurance, but that usually costs three to five times the cost of AdultBasic.

  • john

    Maybe all are great leaders can start to pay for there own healthcare lol

    • sdsf

      Not such a funny idea. It’s a shame that in this day and age and in this country, the underpriviledged bear most of the burdens while “our” leaders can’t even spend all their “ill-gotten gains.”

    • Lou

      Just remember folks–these so called leaders are taking care of themselves first and it is illegal as far as I am concerned.They are supposed to represent us–it is growing ever so evident that the corruption as grown into an epidemic.

  • Stevie2717

    “I gets mines?” What does that even mean concerning this story? This is a serious issue and that is what you say? Try taking an ENGLISH class or two. Maybe then you’ll have something useful to say.

  • jim

    More proof that Republicans are bent on destroying our country as we know it.



  • cindy

    I think Governer Corbett should give up his health insurance. I paid for mine every month at a discounted rate. Now, no one will insure me because I have an existing condition. Its my gas and electric payment OR my health insurance.

    THANKS ALOT FOR ELECTING another A hole into office!!!

    • chip

      Its not just the Republicans–what about “bonus gate” when our leaders gave themselves a huge increase–not just their salary but their health care as well. It will end when enough people who our hurting say enough is enough—as a human being we can stop this atrocity

  • swin

    There’s a lot to consider here about the life on an entitlement program. This was a
    ‘temporary’ program funded by a court settlement. Anyone relying on this program
    needed to consider from the get go that when the money came to an end then the program would come to an end. To expect the government and the taxpayers to step in when the money ran out was unrealistic, otherwise the court settlement would amount to a de-facto piece of legislation that was never voted on by anyone.
    Another point, and this regards the ‘artist’ in the article. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all choose the careers we want, regardless of what the pay is, and then have the government step in and help pay for the things we can’t afford because of the choice we voluntarily made? As an example, if our artist friend would have chosen a career in medicine or computer or electrical engineering, would she be unable to afford health care? This illustrates how any time the government steps into the free market, unintended consequences result that are often worse than the original problem. Our youth should be choosing careers that guarantee, to the extent possible, their financial security and also strengthens the economy as a whole. When they choose a touchy feely career
    that does not provide them this benefit, the choice is on them and the government, aka taxpayers, have no responsibility to bail them out.

    • nick

      How would you feel about paying $70 per month for health insurance for a ROLLS ROYCE plan. That’s what State Senator pay. State Reps pay nothing! My US Congressman Mike Doyle pays $500 per month for is Federal Employee Health Plan form Highmark.

      And The State Government in Harrisburg has a Doctor as a paid state worker with full benefits including MALPRACTICE insurance.

      I wish the State Senators and State Representatives would CUT their OWN coverage a bit, just a cheaper plan… like comparabe to a member of CONGRESS?

    • Megan

      Be careful about throwing rocks..

      Who serves you coffee in the morning? Picks up your trash on the weekends? Cleans your office building every night? Not everyone is exactly like you, or have the opportunities you were awarded. Individuals on adultBasic earn an average of $15,000/year, or the full-time equivalent of a minimum wage job. They are working, and they are contributing to society.. don’t place blame on them because they are priced out of the private market and cannot afford the same things you can. How would you survive if your health care costs were nearly 50% of your income? So what if she chose to be an artist? It isn’t your place to judge that, or deem her unworthy of basic needs. In the real world, not everyone is just like you.. they are not all doctors or engineers, a belief that seems incredibly small-minded.

      And here’s another point for you.. as a taxpayer, you WILL end up paying. When 500,000 people without health insurance choose to delay or forgo care or they utilize the emergency room as primary care, WE ALL end up paying.. Nearly 9% of your health care premium pays for that uncompensated care. Maye we could save a little $ in our own pockets, not to mention a few lives, and allow everyone the access to primary and preventive care they need.

      Just because you don’t value people unlike yourself, and don’t understand the issue, that doesn’t make this wrong.. or everyone who showed up at that rally wrong. Many of them may not even be on adultBasic, but they stand up for their neighbors, family, and friends as brave, concerned citizens.

    • Get a clue

      Anyone can get laid off or work at a job where health insurance either a) isn’t offered or b) would require 90% of a paycheck to afford, and find themselves in need of an affordable option.

      Do you have kids? Are they engineers? I sure hope they never find themselves unemployed, underemployed or stuck at jobs that offer health insurance.

      Yet another self-righteous, here’s how everyone should live, totally out of touch Republican. I’d hate to live every day as such a condescending, judgmental, wholly un-empathetic person.

    • Lou

      what about the health coverage that those who represent us took full advantage of and what about the “tobacco settlement—I worked all my life and I paid my dues but you are ready to put those people who are having a tough time into the ground –oh yes let us decrease the surplus population—-if your going to write something write for what is right—

  • Time to live within our means

    I applaud Gov. Corbett for having the guts to make the hard decisions to balance the budget and be financially responsible. Yes sometimes it means having to cut certain programs that may be valuable, but we wouldn’t be in this mess if previous governors had been fiscally responsible.

    Keep up the good work Gov. Corbett

  • Betsy O

    I agree. Nobody is paying for my health care but me!

    • Thomas J Duttine

      AMEN… I am soooo tired of paying the bill for everyone…. STOP LIVING ON THE TAXPAYERS DIME!!!!!

      • Nick

        Just hope you never get a pre-existing condition and are rejected for insurance. I take one pill and I got turned down TWICE.

  • Petra

    I think Gov. Corbett is out of touch with the working person. He strikes me as someone who has no idea what it feels like to struggle in today’s economy. Whatever happened to the “compassioinate conservative”?

  • Get a clue

    This isn’t about the budget–it’s about Corbett throwing working people under the bus to protect who he’s really intending to serve: big business interests. According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, Corbett took $650,000 from health interests in the 2010 campaign, including $57,000 from the Insurance Federation of PA–of which the Blues (Highmark, Independence Blue Cross, NEPA Blue Cross and Capitol Blue) are the biggest part.

    The Blues’ funding makes up 90% of the money keeping adultBasic going–they started funding it to avoid huge lawsuits over abusing their non-profit status to amass HUGE surpluses. Back then, those surpluses were at $3.2 billion; today, they’re at $6 billion. It would take 3% of that to fund adultBasic for an entire year. Keep in mind that the Blues get around $100 million in tax breaks/year for being “non-profit.”

    Corbett is selling out working families to stand with big insurers sitting on billions in surplus profits. At the very least, he should lead by example and cut his 100% fully taxpayer funded health insurance that his whole family gets and pick up “Special Care” if he thinks it’s so great. Another Republican hypocrite that doesn’t give a damn about workers.

  • Nick

    I was on adultBasic, I actually TRIED to buy health insurance on my own. I was DENIED coverage by Highmark…TWICE. I actually TRIED to buy Keystone Blue HMO and that was around $300 a month at that time. They told me since I took Coumadin a blood thinner, the medical underwriters, that if I went off the Coumadin for 10 years and no incidents occured they would “look” into my case again. I was told by my physicians I’ll be on that FOREVER. Now I also applied for Complete Care another Highmark PPO plan and they ALSO rejected me. I even thought about other states and just picking up and moving, I got turned down in several other states.

    So I tried doing this on my own.

    Now Obamacare might help…in a few years. Also, the PA Fair Care plan would help…if I went without insurance for 6 months…and PA FAIR Care has only 3500 slots..adultBasic had a WAIT list of close to half a MILLION people. And being on Coumadin, you need to test and test and test.

    Also, Highmark itself isn’t sure about the new Obamacare law, that law…which Governor Corbett ALSO wants to kill…may address my whole testing delemma with Special Care Insurance. Special Care limits you to $1,000 ANNUALLY for tests and trust me you burn through that FAST! Obamacare may say, my tests are an “essential health benefit” and as such no annual cap would be allowed under the law.

    Remember Corbett is actively supporting the law’s REPEAL.

    And Governor Corbett, pledging to “huddle with the insurers and huddle with the legislators to come up with a solution” while running for Governor but EVEN before he sworn in he was telling Rendell to send out the cancellation letters. He had no intention to even TRY and fix the problem. And the “DEAL” he got us for adultBasic? Well under the HIPAA law from the 1990s you can switch RIGHT INTO Special Care from another health insurance policy LIKE ADULTBASIC without regard to preexisting conditions. That’s actually CLEARLY PRINTED in the Special Care Brochure FROM Highmark.

    Is this how Corbett NEGOTITATES? Wow, I wish I could sell this guy a used care. Personally I feel he flat out LIED to us all.

  • chip

    Stevie you are so far out of touch–you and the rest of your type belong on a island so remote even the sharks wouldn’t care about you

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