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Governor Rendell Offers Coverage to 29,000 on AdultBasic Waiting List; Unveils New Policy to Improve Quality of Care for the Low-Income and Pennsylvanians With Disabilities

HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Edward G. Rendell today said that 29,000 uninsured adults who have been waiting for coverage since 2006 can now be added to the adultBasic insurance program and said if his Cover All Pennsylvanians program had been enacted, more than 70,000 people still on the waiting list would have also been able to receive coverage.

During a Capitol news conference, the Governor also announced that the state has taken steps to eliminate preventable, serious adverse events at acute care general hospitals participating in the Medical Assistance program. Consistent with his Prescription for Pennsylvania health care reform plan, the new policy places Pennsylvania at the forefront among state Medical Assistance programs in addressing these avoidable health care occurrences.

"With my Prescription for Pennsylvania, we have been working hard to make sure that all Pennsylvanians have access to quality, affordable health insurance," Governor Rendell said. "Today we have given 29,000 uninsured adults the opportunity to receive adultBasic health coverage at a monthly premium of about $33.50. We have also instituted a program to improve the quality of hospital care that our Medical Assistance recipients receive. Both of these announcements are good news.

"While the individuals who have been on the adultBasic waiting for up to 18 months can finally heave a sigh of relief, there are still 70,000 people on the waiting list and hundreds of thousands more Pennsylvanians who have no affordable options in sight. Of course, all these folks would be provided immediate access to coverage if the legislature were to pass my Cover All Pennsylvanians proposal because that program would fold all current adultBasic enrollees as well as the waiting list into the program.

"And, even more worrisome is the fact that nearly 5,000 eligible people apply for coverage, but end up on the adultBasic waitlist each month. The application rate is growing at a rate higher than anytime in the program's history. We must do more than offer a band-aid solution to stem the increasing flow of the needs of the uninsured. CAP would do that."

The Governor also said that if the General Assembly had passed CAP last March when HB700 (the Rx for PA legislation) was introduced, the federal matching monies that the state would have received would have covered an additional 56,324 people per month on average. That means that without any other proposed funding sources, 104,218 people would have been receiving some coverage.

"We could have pretty much wiped out the waiting list," the Governor said. "That wouldn't have solved our entire problem, because there are hundreds of thousands of people who haven't applied for adultBasic because of the huge waiting list. And the adultBasic enrollees don't have prescription drug coverage, which CAP does. But it would have allowed us to start to make a dent."

People who are on the waiting list for adultBasic have the option to pay about $298 a month for this coverage. If they had to buy private health insurance, they would pay considerably more.

There are currently 50,117 Pennsylvanians enrolled in the program. With today's action, there have been 15 wait-list offerings to nearly 260,000 individuals since the Governor took office. This latest offering will likely reduce the adultBasic waiting list from 100,000 people to roughly 70,000.

Governor Rendell again urged the General Assembly to make expanded access to health care a priority in the coming weeks and months.

"It is my hope that we can sit down and work out an achievable plan for health care, certainly before the summer recess. We hope, eventually, to add all 800,000 uninsured Pennsylvanians to CAP. If we can pass CAP in May or June, we can start enrolling Pennsylvanians in the fall. AdultBasic is a good, temporary stopgap...for those families, but it's not nearly enough."

AdultBasic offers necessary benefits -- including preventative care, physician services, diagnosis and treatment of illness or injury, in-patient hospitalization, out-patient hospital services, emergency accident care and medical care -- to uninsured Pennsylvanians between the ages of 19 and 64. For eligibility and enrollment information, call 1-800-GO-BASIC or visit the Pennsylvania Insurance Department's Web site,

AdultBasic is funded by proceeds from the commonwealth's share of the national tobacco settlement and is augmented through General Fund allocations and through the Community Health Reinvestment Agreement negotiated by the state with Pennsylvania's four Blue Cross Blue Shield plans.

The second announcement the Governor made today focused on making quality health care accessible to Pennsylvania's most vulnerable citizens.

"Too often we learn that during an extended hospital stay, patients have received care that poses serious and sometimes fatal health risks," the Governor said. "According to the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, these unnecessary errors are costing Pennsylvania businesses, consumers and taxpayers over $960 million annually. Through this initiative, we are taking steps to ensure that payment for services through the Medical Assistance program is made to hospitals based on their efforts to provide quality care to our consumers."

Based on National Quality Forum standards, the Department of Public Welfare, in collaboration with the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania developed the new policy to help in identifying preventable, serious adverse events and provide a starting point for health care facilities to establish measures and actions to be taken to actively improve the safety of patient care.

Under the newly established guidelines, preventable serious adverse events can be identified as; surgical events, such as surgery performed on the wrong body part or patient; patient protection events, such as an infant discharged to the wrong family; environmental events, such as a patient death associated with a fall while being cared for in a healthcare facility; and care management events, such as a patient death or serious disability associated with a medication error.

In making payments to acute care general hospitals, the department will consider whether the event was preventable, within control of the hospital, occurred during an inpatient admission and/or resulted in significant harm.

For more information on the Medical Assistance program or to view the Preventable Serious Adverse Events bulletin, visit

For information about Governor Rendell's Cover All Pennsylvanians proposal and the Prescription for Pennsylvania, visit

The Rendell administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weekly newsletter, visit his Web site at:

Additional media contacts:

Amy Kelchner, GOHCR - 717-346-8379;

Rosanne Placey, PID - 717-787-3289;

Stacey Witalec, DPW - 717-787-4592

Editor's Note: The chart below shows the number of uninsured adults by county and the uninsured rate per capita. It also shows how many people in each county currently receive adultBasic and how many are on the waiting list.

County Uninsured % Adults Adult Basic

Adults who are Enrollment 1/08

(19-64)* Uninsured Waitlist

* 1/08 Adult Basic

Adams 6,472 12.8% 1,037 225

Allegheny 108,835 15.7% 7,882 5,101

Armstrong 5,247 13.2% 780 490

Beaver 13,734 14.1% 1,454 845

Bedford 3,327 11.8% 680 543

Berks 17,959 8.9% 3,276 757

Blair 9,817 13.8% 1,159 720

Bradford 4,690 13.5% 697 369

Bucks 17,655 5.0% 3,627 1,727

Butler 3,408 3.4% 1,596 954

Cambria 11,295 14.3% 1,400 1,160

Cameron 185 6.5% 51 38

Carbon 4,514 13.8% 683 364

Centre 8,307 10.6% 632 395

Chester 25,790 10.0% 2,166 935

Clarion 2,423 11.0% 317 238

Clearfield 6,121 13.5% 1,083 688

Clinton 2,764 14.1% 234 184

Columbia 4,374 12.8% 495 221

Crawford 8,814 18.7% 755 511

Cumberland 8,022 6.8% 2,085 441

Dauphin 12,505 8.6% 2,303 430

Delaware 23,815 8.0% 4,267 2,023

Elk 2,041 10.8% 266 227

Erie 10,340 7.2% 2,658 1,714

Fayette 11,833 14.8% 1,716 1,138

Forest 663 27.0% 45 45

Franklin 10,433 14.2% 834 294

Fulton 1,247 15.4% 97 58

Greene 2,637 12.5% 321 240

Huntingdon 2,525 11.1% 365 254

Indiana 6,376 13.4% 933 575

Jefferson 4,139 16.7% 361 343

Juniata 1,841 14.6% 257 111

Lackawanna 11,420 10.3% 1,315 780

Lancaster 11,278 4.4% 5,141 929

Lawrence 5,773 11.8% 751 601

Lebanon 7,231 10.7% 1,072 238

Lehigh 14,597 8.4% 3,572 869

Luzerne 17,661 10.6% 2,202 1,217

Lycoming 7,636 12.0% 599 340

McKean 1,500 6.5% 564 253

Mercer 10,039 16.5% 950 580

Mifflin 2,672 10.6% 575 229

Monroe 10,470 13.1% 1,625 757

Montgomery 23,060 5.3% 3,613 2,436

Montour 973 10.5% 66 34

Northampton 22,024 15.2% 2,034 538

Northumberland 4,503 9.0% 981 427

Perry 4,107 16.1% 457 136

Philadelphia 138,950 17.3% 14,298 7,661

Pike 3,714 13.3% 566 332

Potter 1,329 13.4% 232 160

Schuylkill 8,252 10.3% 1,139 482

Snyder 2,419 12.3% 328 127

Somerset 4,877 11.4% 902 725

Sullivan 352 10.8% 79 41

Susquehanna 4,025 17.0% 513 329

Tioga 7,721 35.6% 671 335

Union 2,444 13.9% 179 95

Venango 2,186 6.9% 566 409

Warren 5,325 22.6% 416 255

Washington 8,996 8.3% 1,252 942

Wayne 3,167 12.4% 573 325

Westmoreland 9,682 4.7% 3,032 2,297

Wyoming 1,054 6.7% 305 132

York 23,055 10.5% 3,136 748

TOTAL 746,640 100,216 50,117

Figures derived from the 2004 Health Insurance Survey conducted by Market Decisions LLC for the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. This chart does not reflect what portion of the uninsured may be eligible or may qualify for CHIP, adultBasic, Medicaid, or any other government program.

CONTACT: Chuck Ardo 717-783-1116

SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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