Class Action Filed Against Pennsylvania Governor For Ending Health Care Program

Posted on: March 18th, 2011 by Steve Larson

A Pittsburgh law firm has filed a lawsuit to force the state to continue to provide health-care coverage for 42,000 low-income adults whose insurance program ended last month.  The suit, filed Monday in Commonwealth Court and seeking class-action status, charges that Gov. Corbett does not have the authority to end the decade-old program, known as adultBasic, because its funding from the state is stipulated under law.

Named in the suit are Corbett, the state House and Senate, and members of the Corbett administration.

Attorneys for three Pittsburgh plaintiffs said the state violated both the Pennsylvania Constitution and state law by failing to use tobacco-settlement money to keep the program alive as stipulated under the 2001 Pennsylvania Tobacco Settlement Act.  Pennsylvania, like 45 other states, receives significant payments from the tobacco settlements every year.  The annual payments are the result of a 1998 settlement with 46 states over medical costs from smoking-related diseases.  Under the terms of the settlement approved by the Pennsylvania legislative body, those proceeds were dedicated to programs to make Pennsylvanians healthier.  In fact, a portion was specifically directed to fund adultBasic.  The Pennsylvania Tobacco Settlement Act states that 30 percent of the proceeds was to be shared between adultBasic Insurance and Medicaid for workers with disabilities.

The state is anticipating an estimated $370 million in payments from major tobacco companies on April 15.  The lawyers representing the plaintiffs are asking the court to put a hold on the payments until the suit is settled.