Up in Smoke

Posted by By at 3 March, at 17 : 27 PM Print

Where there is smoke there was money, and Auditor General Jack Wagner recommends that Pennsylvania use all incoming payments from the tobacco settlement to pay for adultBasic health insurance. Governor Corbett has pulled the plug on adultbasic a form of coverage that more than 40,000 residents rely on, and will now have to go without.

These people don’t make enough to afford private health insurance, and make too much to qualify for medicaid.

Wagner says the $1.34 billion that the state has already received out of the settlement fund have been, in Wagner’s words, quietly diverted from the original use that was agreed upon an agreement was reached with the tobacco industry in 2001.

In his audit, Wagner found that 30 percent of the settlement fund money that Pennsylvania has received has been siphoned off and used for unspecified purposes.

“The mishandling of tobacco settlement funds is yet another example of how the state’s dysfunctional budgetary process is negatively impacting the lives of Pennsylvanians,” Wagner said. “With the commonwealth still mired in its greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, now is not the time to reduce or eliminate health coverage for hard-working Pennsylvanians -or for reducing funds to prevent smoking and to help those who want to quit.”

Pennsylvania was among 46 states that sued five key tobacco companies in 1998 with the intent to be used for adultBasic, medicaid, health research, cessation programs, and more.

‘It is unconscionable that this account, designed to provide funding for health-related programs if and when the settlement payments decreased or stopped, has essentially been raided to cover General Fund budget shortfalls,” said Wagner.

Wagner is imploring Governor Corbett and the General Assembly to start using the money for its intended purpose.

(To read more about what Pennsylvania is losing out on without adultbasic click on Rock The Capital.)

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