Gov. Tom Wolf delivered his budget address before a joint session of the Pennsylvania House and Senate on Feb. 7, 2017. He outlined a $32.3 billion budget proposal for 2017-2018 that, in a departure from his prior two years in office, does not include any broad-based tax increases.
Health care highlights from the budget proposal include:
- Creation of a New Department of Health and Human Services—Gov. Wolf reaffirmed his plans to plan to merge the Commonwealth's departments of Health, Human Services, Aging, and Drug and Alcohol Programs, saying that the merger has the potential to save the state $90 million and enhance program coordination.
- Funding to Continue Addressing the Opioid Abuse Crisis—The proposal includes $10 million to expand naloxone access for first responders. It would also allocate $3.4 million to expand specialty drug courts, with the goal of diverting offenders into treatment and recovery. "This epidemic has stolen the futures of far too many of our fellow Pennsylvanians," said Gov. Wolf. "The numbers are simply staggering."
- Services for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities and Autism—The proposal includes $26.2 million to move individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism from the waiting list and into services.
The governor's budget address is the first step in Pennsylvania's budget process. The next step will be budget hearings where lawmakers have an opportunity to question cabinet secretaries and agency heads in more detail about their spending plans for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) follows these hearings closely, and we will share any updates on decisions and initiatives that impact the practice of medicine.