Gov. Tom Wolf announced his plan for a state budget this week. During the speech, he outlined spending priorities for issues ranging from education and infrastructure to the workforce and economic investment. The budget speech is the start of a traditionally long and deliberative process involving the governor’s office and cabinet secretaries, the state Legislature, and interest groups with their own budget needs.
Wolf’s $34.1 billion proposed budget includes funding for many health care-related programs that affect Pennsylvanians, their families, and their communities.
Among the health care programs and priorities that could be important to you:
- Disease prevention and education efforts
- Opioid abuse prevention and treatment
- Mental health and substance use disorders services
- Maternity services and neonatal care
- Newborn screenings
- Trauma, burn, and rural hospitals that provide specialized care
- Medicaid to help the elderly, women and babies, and people with disabilities
- Community health clinics
The budget maintains current funding levels for hospital payments, including the Medical Assistance supplemental payments for critical access hospitals, obstetrics/neonatal services, hospital burn centers, and trauma centers. It preserves important health care-related programs that are supported by the Tobacco Settlement Fund.
It also continues addressing the state’s opioid crisis by dedicating an additional $1.5 million to expanding access to naloxone for first responders.
The Legislature has its own priorities for divvying up the state’s revenue, and they don’t always match the governor’s first plan. To that end, the House and Senate Appropriations committees will hold hearings in February and March to discuss program budgets with departmental leaders.
From now until late June, which is the budget deadline, concerned citizens and interest groups from across the state have a chance to tell their elected officials and the governor what they think about the state budget plan.
If both chambers and the governor can reach an agreement, the goal is to pass a final budget by June 30.
It’s a long road, and Healthy Me PA will keep the community updated about important budget issues that affect Pennsylvanians. If funding for health care is in jeopardy, we may ask you to speak up and tell lawmakers to protect it.