Watch a 10-minute clip of highlights from today's faith community press conference.
230 faith community leaders in Pennsylvania added their voice to the growing chorus in support of presesrving the state's adultBasic health insurance program at the state Capitol today.
Quick refresher: adultBasic will end in less than a week and, with it, affordable health coverage for 42,000 Pennsylvanians — many of whom work but earn too little to afford health insurance coverage. The program is facing a funding crisis and, without immediate action, will run out of funds on February 28.
Governor Corbett has proposed allowing adultBasic to expire and offering those who lose their coverage the option of enrolling in Special Care, a plan that costs as much as 400% more than adultBasic and provides much more limited benefits.
Not good enough, say the faith community leaders.
Amy Reumann of the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania pulled together the 230 leaders in Pennsylvania's faith community to sign on to a letter to Governor Corbett urging him to preserve adultBasic.
“For the faith community, those people on adultBasic are not just ‘those people,’" Amy said at a Capitol press conference earlier today. "They are people in our pews, in our synagogues and congregations. They are members of our community. And they are people who, once their insurance is gone, will be turning to their local faith organizations and community centers for the help they are going to need.”
As we have noted in the past, there are a number of funding options out there to keep adultBasic from expiring. For one, the state could continue an adultBasic funding agreement with the state's four nonprofit Blue Cross/Blue Shield providers that expired in December. It would take less than 3% of the Blues' combined $6 billion in surpluses to keep adultBasic going for a full year. It also would allow them to fulfill a big part of their charitable mission.
Still, Governor Corbett and others say we can't afford it. Maybe they should have a sit down with Bob Rundle, the CEO of Lutheran Social Services for South-Central Pennsylvania.
Bob noted that it would cost $52 million to continue adultBasic for all 42,000 people, which translates into roughly $1,250 per participant.
Based on 2008 data, he said, it costs $1,265 per emergency room visit.
“We’re telling people to leave a health insurance program that gives them both care as well as the comfort they need to move forward and, in return, go to our community hospitals, go to our emergency rooms and drive our costs up," he said. "I do not think that is a good and wise use of our limited resources.”
We couldn't agree more.