PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Funds for low-income health insurance programs were diverted, the programs disbanded and that has left thousands in Pennsylvania with no assistance.

On Tuesday, a Commonwealth Court judge declared unconstitutional a state law that siphoned money from the Adult Basic Health Care program into state coffers.

The main plaintiff in the case was a woman from McKeesport with no money to pay for her medications.

“I’m known to fight. So, I picked up the fight and went with it,” said Sheryl Sears, the plaintiff.

Two years ago when the state scrapped the Adult Basic program and took away her health insurance,
Sears — a 63-year-old part-time city worker in McKeesport — became the plaintiff of a class action suit to get the program reinstated.

“We won. We won. We won,” said Sears.

The Commonweath Court ruled that the Corbett administration wrongly took $200 million of tobacco settlement money from health insurance for the working poor and put it into state coffers.

The ruling states that Adult Basic, or a similar program be reinstated, meaning people like Sears will now longer have to go uninsured.

“I borrowed from my children. I borrow from my brothers and sisters. I borrowed from my friends,” said Sears. “I just thank God that so many people opened their hearts to me.”

There was no immediate reaction from the Corbett administration, which may appeal the ruling.

But Sears says she heard directly from some of the 41,000 Adult Basic recipients who have gone without these past two years.

“I got so many calls from people all over the state when they found out I filed this,” said Sears. “They didn’t have anybody and they were going to go without insurance.”

Whether Adult Basic gets restored to its former self remains to be seen; but with the court ruling, Sears says chalk up one for the little guy.

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