With funding streams drying up and everyone looking toward the impact of national health care reform, adultBasic is set to expire at the end of 2010 and it almost seems as if no one is paying attention.
Since 2002, Pennsylvania has run a state-subsidized health insurance program called adultBasic. The program allows uninsured adults ages 19-65 that meet certain criteria to apply for a low cost health insurance option enabling them to receive basic health care. The program is not perfect and the coverage it provides is not fully comprehensive, but since its formation, adultBasic has helped thousands of Pennsylvanians access the health care system and get some of the care that they need.
The main requirements for this program are that these individuals have an income, are not eligible for Medicaid, and are uninsured. People must then take it upon themselves to fill out the application and join the wait list that has formed until they receive the state subsidy. The fact that the 45,927 people now enrolled have met the eligibility guidelines and gone through the application process is surprising in and of itself.
What is even more troubling than the number of people on the program is the wait list that has developed as a result of increased demand and insufficient funding. As of June 2010 there were 397,671 Pennsylvanians on this waitlist. That number is staggering. That means that for every person actually enrolled in the program there are nearly 10 people waiting to get on themselves. Also, to put this in perspective, when I began my job at Consumer Health Coalition just over two years ago in June of 2008 the waitlist was just over 96,000.
The passing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was a monumental achievement and an important step towards making sure Americans will have the access to the health services that they deserve. With that said, adultBasic and other similar programs should be a bridge until the other components of health care reform are put into place. We should not pull the rug out from underneath the thousands of working Pennsylvanians relying on the program, leaving them with the possibility of waiting years until other options are in place. Our legislators should find a solution to make sure adultBasic survives this year and into the near future until other reforms are up and running.