Gov. Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Legislature agreed to a $34 billion budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year that continues to fund important health care and hospital programs while boosting funding for education and tucking away money for a rainy day, all without a tax increase.
A big win for Pennsylvanians is that the budget ensures that funds from the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement remain fully committed to health care programs. That protects support for hospitals to care for vulnerable patients through uncompensated care or extraordinary expense payments, as well as funds for CURE grants that support health research.
The spending plan also fully funds Medicaid supplemental budget lines for trauma centers and obstetric and neonatal intensive care units and slightly increases that funding for burn units and critical access hospitals. The increase for critical access hospitals accounts for more facilities becoming part of the system.
Other health-related highlights:
- $84.8 million more for the Community Waiver Program, which provides home- and community-based services for people with intellectual disabilities
- An additional $26.3 million for mental health services
- $1.5 million in new funding to supply additional doses of naloxone to first responders
- $12 million more to provide a 2 percent increase for homecare workers who care for seniors and individuals with physical disabilities
Education funding represents the largest part of the General Fund budget and saw increases in several areas, including:
- $160 million more for K-12 education
- $50 million more for special education
- $25 million more for Pre-K Counts, which provides early childhood education to income-eligible children
Also included in the budget are 2 percent increases for the State System of Higher Education, community colleges and the four state-related universities. Public libraries gain an extra $5 million.
Additionally, the budget reserved about $300 million for the state’s Rainy Day Fund, which had a balance of about $22.5 million. The fund is designed to protect the state from future economic downturns.
Care for trauma and maternity services, rural communities, and financially-vulnerable patients avoid cuts. Thank you for your support.