Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Corbett, Legislature sued over adultBasic expiration

March 15, 2011- Gov. Tom Corbett and other state officials have been named as defendants in a lawsuit for allowing the expiration of adultBasic, a state health insurance program for the working poor.

The suit was filed Monday in Commonwealth Court by three plaintiffs, all from southwestern Pennsylvania, who are being represented by Caroselli Beachler McTiernan & Conboy, a Pittsburgh law firm.

With 41,000 former adultBasic subscribers who had been using the program before it expired at the end of February and hundreds of thousands of people who were on the waiting list, "potentially the class is very large," said firm spokesman Mark Nevins.

The complaint alleges that the state government is violating the law ­– specifically, the Pennsylvania Tobacco Settlement Act and the state constitution — by allowing adultBasic funding to drop to zero. That's because the state law, according to the complaint, requires that a portion of the annual tobacco settlement money go to adultBasic.

The governor on Monday reiterated that the state was trying to save money.

"I would remind everybody, including those people who have filed the lawsuit against whoever they have filed the lawsuit, that this was a program that was not sufficiently funded," Mr. Corbett.

"[The] prior administration did not live up to their end of a bargain that they had with the four Blues. That money is gone. We will not spend money that we do not have."

The Blue Cross-Blue Shield money is gone, but the tobacco money is not. Pennsylvania receives hundreds of millions in tobacco settlement money each year. Last year, the state received almost $350 million.

The tobacco settlement money comes from a 1998 pact between the four largest U.S. tobacco and cigarette companies and the attorneys general of most of the states, who agreed to divide a pot of more than $200 billion over the next 25 years.


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