A Rarity Indeed

Here's a rarity: Community Legal Services of Philadelphia is praising the Corbett administration on an issue the group has hammered state leaders and lawmakers for months.

CLS just issued a press release applauding the administration for reaching out to working poor folks cut from a low-cost state health care program, adultBasic, back on March 1.

The release notes that the state Insurance Department just mailed 8,300 letters to women aged 18 to 44 who lost adultBasic advising them they may qualify for a Medical Assistance program designed to protect womens' health.

In addition, the CLS release notes that six insurance companies invovled in adultBasic are now contacting thousands more former recipients with detailed guidance on how they, too, might qualify for some Medical Assistance through the state Department of Public Welfare.

Maybe half the 40,000 or so former adultBasic users could end up getting some aid.

AdultBasic was a program aimed at working poor folks whose jobs do not include health care coverage and whose income limits their ability to buy it.

Long-time CLS lawyer Jonathan Stein has been a tireless, often relentless advocate for the needy and helped lead the charge to save adultBasic before the Corbett administration ended it for lack of funding.

Stein's group hounded both the Welfare and Insurance departments to explore whether those stripped of adultBasic might find help in other programs. Apparently, that paid off.

Again, adultBasic was merely an assist, and a sensible one, to help lower-income working people stay healthy and avoid greater costs to taxpayers if they fell seriously ill.

CLS is to be commended for its efforts. As is the Corbett administration. But what strikes me is that Corbett missed an opportunity here.

He could have softened the edges of his decision to cancel adultBasic (which underscored the political stereotype of a pro-business Republican not caring about social programs) by himself announcing this positive development.

If you believe the polls, Corbett could use a little positive bounce, which, at this early stage in his incumbency, would have been a rarity indeed.