Governor Corbett's Healthy PA plan threatens to undermine the stability of community health centers and services for Pennsylvania's most vulnerable, writes Dr. Hilda Shirk, the chief executive officer of SouthEast Lancaster Health Services.
The Pennsylvania Legislature has approved and the Governor has signed a 2013-14 state budget that spends $28.376 billion. The biggest change in the final budget from the Governor’s February plan is an increase in Medicaid Capitation payments, which funds the managed care providers.
“There is little to celebrate in this budget," says PBPC Director Sharon Ward. "It fails to adequately address the enormity of the funding crisis facing Pennsylvania schools. 80 percent of the cuts to classrooms are left intact, and that means higher property taxes and even larger class sizes in our schools.
Pennsylvania has an unparalleled opportunity to expand health coverage to between 600,000 and 800,000 hardworking low-income Pennsylvanians, lowering the state's uninsured rate by over 50% and giving the state's health care economy a shot in the arm.
Like all states, Pennsylvania must redesign its health care infrastructure regardless of whether it expands Medicaid. There is no reason that the expansion could not take effect in January 2014 if policymakers allocate the federal dollars in the 2013-14 budget. Read a fact sheet about the expansion in Pennsylvania.
It will help to move Pennsylvania and the nation from a system that is riddled with coverage gaps, where individuals get necessary health care at the last minute and at the highest cost to themselves and health care institutions, to one which emphasizes health, wellness and prevention," Sharon Ward testified before the House Human Services Committee.