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Lawyers seek $12.4M in adultBasic case

| Thursday, March 21, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The six lawyers who successfully fought to restore funding to the state's adultBasic health insurance program are asking a judge to award them about $12.4 million in attorney fees from money that would otherwise go into the program, according to court documents.

The number, contained in a motion filed Friday in state Commonwealth Court, is 10 percent of the estimated $123.8 million in tobacco settlement money the state will split between the insurance fund and a Medicaid fund for disabled workers next year.

The amount is reasonable, the attorneys argue in the motion, because their contract with the lower-income adults formerly covered by the insurance program allows them to claim up to one-third of any money recovered.

If the $123.8 million were evenly split between the two accounts, each would get about $61.9 million, and one-third of the adultBasic funding would come to about $20.6 million, the motion says.

Gov. Tom Corbett shut down adultBasic and diverted the tobacco settlement money shortly after taking office in 2011. Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini ruled on March 4 that the state must annually split 30 percent of the settlement money between the two programs.

AdultBasic began in 2002 for lower-income working adults who earned too much to qualify for Medicaid or were not old enough for Medicare. It covered major surgery but not dental costs or prescriptions.

The tobacco settlement with five major tobacco companies allows the state to recoup expenses for Medicaid costs from tobacco-related illnesses.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or bbowling@tribweb.com.

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