How does Pennsylvania want to Burn its Tobacco Money

Posted by By at 25 April, at 11 : 48 AM Print

Auditor General Jack Wagner wants to know if his deeply held belief over how to spend tobacco settlement money mirrors the wishes of Pennsylvanians.

Wagner is, in a word, aghast, that Governor Corbett pulled the plug on AdultBasic health care insurance earlier this year. The program covered about 41,000 people; low-wage earners who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford similar quality insurance.

Since 2001, Pennsylvania had earmarked some of its $370 million dollar a year tobacco settlement money to fund AdultBasic, along with a host of other health related health programs, such as, smoking prevention classes, and cancer research.

Wagner said the General Assembly is now using nearly one-third of that money, about $1.34 billion, for other budgetary needs.

“With Pennsylvanians still struggling to overcome the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression, AdultBasic health insurance is needed now more than ever,” Wagner said.

To find out if this is truly how others feel, Wagner is holding a series of hearings, the first is happening today in Pittsburgh.

Pennsylvania along with dozens of other states settled a lawsuit with tobacco companies in the late 1990’s. Pennsylvania’s share is $10 billion, and it has received almost half of that. The rest will come in annual payments over the next 15 years.

“This is the people’s money, and they should have a voice in how it is spent,” Wagner said.

(To learn more about the tobacco settlement programs click on Rock The Capital and you can also read Eric Epstein’s piece on why it is such a costly move to kill AdultBasic)

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