Collapse of Pennsylvania’s Adult Basic Health Plan

By Ross Schriftman, RHU, LUTCF, ACBC, MSAA

The pending collapse of the Adult Basic Health Plan (see Philadelphia Inquirer article) is a sad time for all Pennsylvanians.  However, I have no sympathy for our government officials who were warned by me and others before the legislation creating the program was enacted.

When I was the Legislative Chair for the Pennsylvania Association of Health Underwriters (Health Insurance Agents and Brokers) we held meetings and a press conference in Harrisburg warning that the program was poorly designed and would eventually become unsustainable.  As a sounder alternative we promoted “mainstreaming” lower income workers into employer provided plans.  Good businesses that helped insure their employees in their private insurance plans would have received tax credits for each worker enrolled and the funding would have been provided through a portion of the Tobacco Settlement.

We asked our elected representatives how they would cover the rising cost of health care for those who would be covered under Adult Basic.  Their answer was that the “rainy day” fund would adequately cover inflation.  We expressed our concerns about what would happen when the Tobacco Settlement funds ran out.  We did not get an answer.  We pleaded that an independent actuarial study be done before it was enacted.  Except for a handful of brave legislators who raised the same questions we were ignored.  To me this whole fiasco is a matter of legislative malpractice.  The new Federal law is only going to make the problems worse if it isn’t repealed.

The solutions now include getting those who will face the loss of Adult Basic into regular health insurance plans and giving them some kind of subsidy so they can buy their own insurance.  Federal approval to allow HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) coverage credit to waive pre-existing conditions should be available for those who have been continually covered for 18 months or longer under Adult Basic.

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One Response

  1. I agree with you on this one Ross. We can’t legislate miracles….

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