State Health Secretary Visits City of Chester for 'Cover the Uninsured' Week

In Delaware County, nearly 24,000 adults under the age of 64 are uninsured

CHESTER, Pa., May 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- If the Senate approves Pennsylvania Access to Basic Care, Health Secretary Dr. Calvin B. Johnson today said tens of thousands of uninsured Pennsylvania citizens would have greatly needed access to affordable health insurance.

"'Cover the Uninsured Week' is the perfect time to talk about reforming health care in Pennsylvania," said Dr. Johnson, who attended a public meeting at Chester City Hall as part of "Cover the Uninsured Week," which runs through May 3. "Nearly 767,000 adult Pennsylvanians lack health insurance coverage, and that means they are not receiving basic medical care.

"Pennsylvania Access to Basic Care is a crucial first step to improve access, quality, and affordability of health care for all of our citizens."

During "Cover the Uninsured Week," Governor Edward G. Rendell and members of his cabinet and staff are visiting communities across the state to talk with groups -- ranging from business and community leaders to health care advocates -- to involve the public in the discussion and to encourage the Senate to pass this critical legislation.

According to a study by the Insurance Department, the majority of uninsured adults in Pennsylvania are employed and most of the uninsured workers hold full-time jobs.

In Delaware County, there are 23,815 uninsured adults, which is 8 percent of the county's adult population. Each year, government, businesses, and consumers pay an estimated $1.4 billion to help cover the costs of treating Pennsylvanians who are uninsured and underinsured.

In January 2007, Governor Rendell rolled out his Prescription for Pennsylvania, a comprehensive health care reform initiative that included Cover All Pennsylvanians, or CAP. CAP would have offered access to affordable health insurance through the private insurance market to the uninsured.

The House of Representatives, with bi-partisan support, passed a CAP-like program in March called Pennsylvania Access to Basic Care. The Governor said that while PA ABC does not cover as many people as CAP would have covered, it is an important step in the right direction.

In addition to providing access to health care to the uninsured and low-wage small businesses without insurance, Pennsylvania Access to Basic Care provides grants to low-wage small businesses that already offer their employees health insurance and need help coping with the escalating costs.

Aggressive efforts to expand the availability of health insurance are a hallmark of Governor Rendell's administration. With bipartisan support, Governor Rendell's "Cover All Kids" initiative was adopted in 2006, making health coverage available to all uninsured children through Pennsylvania's Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. The CHIP program is celebrating its 14th month of unprecedented enrollment and more than 170,000 children are now covered.

In addition to expanding access to affordable health care coverage for all Pennsylvanians, Governor Rendell's Prescription for Pennsylvania includes innovative proposals to improve the quality of care and bring health care costs under control for employers and employees. More information about the Governor's plan may be found at www.rxforPA.com.

CONTACT:

Stacy Kriedeman

(717) 787-1783

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health

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