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CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST GOVERNOR CORBETT, PENNSYLVNIA HOUSE, PENNSYLVNIA SENATE FOR KILLING ADULTBASIC PROGRAM
** Pennsylvania state government’s failure to fund health insurance program violates the Pennsylvania Tobacco Settlement Act and the Pennsylvania Constitution **
Pittsburgh, PA – Today the Caroselli, Beachler, McTiernan and Conboy law firm, on behalf of the Pennsylvania residents harmed by the destruction of the adultBasic program, filed a class action lawsuit against Governor Tom Corbett, the Pennsylvania Senate, and the Pennsylvania State House for failing to provide funding for the program as required by law.
AdultBasic was created to allow low-income workers to purchase health care insurance at a minimal cost. The suit states that by illegally zeroing out tobacco settlement monies from their intended and mandated purpose, Gov. Corbett and the Pennsylvania Legislature violated the Pennsylvania Tobacco Settlement Act and the Pennsylvania Constitution.
“Governor Corbett and the Pennsylvania legislature are in blatant violation of the law and the only way to hold them accountable is to take them to court,” said attorney William Caroselli, of Caroselli, Beachler, McTiernan and Conboy. “Pennsylvania receives significant payments from the tobacco settlements every year, and state law mandates that those proceeds go toward making Pennsylvanians healthier, and that a portion be specifically directed to fund adultBasic. When adultBasic ended in February, it left 41,000 people all across Pennsylvania without health insurance. Thousands of Pennsylvanians are suffering because their own government broke the law, and that is inexcusable. We’re going to work to make this right for them.”
The defendants in the suit are Governor Tom Corbett; Budget Secretary Charles Zogby; the Pennsylvania House of Representatives; Speaker of the House Samuel H. Smith; the Pennsylvania Senate; President Pro Tempore of the Senate Joseph B. Scarnati, III; and the Pennsylvania Department of Treasury.
The plaintiffs in the suit are seeking declaratory, mandamus and injunctive relief on behalf of all similarly situated individuals in Pennsylvania. The complaint was filed in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.
According to the complaint, Pennsylvania receives annual settlement payments from tobacco companies, which amounted to more than $340 million in fiscal year 2009-2010. The Pennsylvania Tobacco Settlement Act provides that the tobacco settlement monies would be “used to make Pennsylvanians healthier and provide for the health of future generations of Pennsylvanians,” and specifically that 30% of the proceeds would be shared between adultBasic Insurance and Medicaid for workers with disabilities.
However, as of February 28, 2011, funding for the program ceased. 41,000 enrollees were left without health insurance, and another approximately 500,000 low income working Pennsylvanians were removed from the waiting list.
The defendants are being charged with violating the Tobacco Settlement Act and with violating Article III, Section 1, 2, 3 and 4 and Article IV, Section 2 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.
“I know how important is it to have health insurance, and I relied on adultBasic for my coverage,” said Sheryl Sears, a plaintiff in the complaint. “Unfortunately, that’s the only coverage I can afford. Even though it was protected by law, it’s now gone. I’m afraid my only option is to live with the risk of being uninsured.”