NU Online News Service, Aug. 6, 12:18 p.m. – Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner M. Diane Koken today announced the kickoff of the biding process for contractors interested in providing health care for uninsured adults.

The program is part of a plan by Gov. Tom Ridge to use funds from the tobacco-settlement agreement to expand access to health care.

Access proposals are due Sept. 14. The Pennsylvania department will announce its selections in early October, Ridge says.

Pennsylvania officials hope the access program will offer basic insurance benefits to uninsured, low-income Pennsylvanians between the ages of 19 and 64. The program is supposed to provide health insurance for adults who have jobs but cannot access coverage, or are between jobs, officials say.

Officials say benefits offered through the program will include preventive care; physician services; diagnosis and treatment of illness or injury; inpatient hospitalization and outpatient services; and emergency room accident and emergency medical care.

Officials want to begin enrolling residents in the program in early February.