Gov. Corbett’s Budget Proposes to Increase Rural Access; Says No to Medicaid Expansion

In his state budget address on Feb. 5, 2013, Gov. Tom Corbett proposed more funding to increase access to health care in rural and underserved areas and turned down Medicaid expansion as too costly to Pennsylvania taxpayers.

The proposal expands the Primary Health Practitioner Loan Repayment Program to incentivize physicians and other health care providers to work in rural and underserved areas. To further improve access to care in these areas, the budget dedicates $4 million to the creation of the Community-Based Health Care Subsidy Program to provide grants to health care clinics for preventative primary care services.

The state also plans to partner with primary care residency programs in Pennsylvania to expand the number of residency slots throughout the state.

While addressing the controversial topic of Medicaid expansion, Corbett said that without serious reform, Medicaid expansion would be financially unsustainable for Pennsylvania taxpayers.

Instead of a one-size-fits-all -design, the state would work with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to create a flexible Medicaid system that would allow for more providers, promote personal responsibility, and focus on consumer-driven products.

Other highlights of the state budget proposal include:

  • The desire to modernize and consolidate the state’s health centers, with a focus on how the staff can see people outside of the health care center rather than requiring patients to come to them.
  • $8 million to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • $40 million to provide critical services to an additional 3,000 adults and children with physical and intellectual disabilities
  • As a result of HealthChoices expansion, to be completed in March 2013, the outpatient services budget will decrease by $194 million, and inpatient services by $175 million. The capitation program, which funds managed care providers, will increase by $252 million.
  • Level funding ($1.58 billion) for state and state-related universities. In exchange, university leaders promised to work to keep tuition increases as low as possible.

The general fund budget is $28.4 billion, an increase of nearly $679 million (2.4 percent) from 2011-2012.

Watch for more detailed information about how the budget will affect health care as the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) continues to analyze the impact on physicians, medical students, and patients.

Questions on the 2013-14 commonwealth budget proposal should be directed to Amy Green, director of governmental affairs at PAMED.

Last Updated: 2/12/2013

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