On Feb. 6, 2018, Gov. Tom Wolf delivered his 2018-2019 budget address at the Capitol in Harrisburg. While the focus of the governor’s speech was on investing in education and workforce developments, his budget proposal includes several health care related initiatives.
Gov. Wolf is proposing several specific investments to continue fighting the state’s opioid abuse epidemic:
- Using the $26.5 million in federal funding (available to Pennsylvania from the second year of the 21st Century Cures Act) to enable the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to supplement existing efforts to combat opioid abuse and expand access to treatment services with a heavy emphasis on Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)
- $2 million in state funds to increase the number of accredited specialty drug courts and expand access to these drug courts throughout the Commonwealth
- $4.5 million in state funds to provide training to providers who would serve approximately 800 families affected by opioid use disorder through evidence-based home visiting models. This budget item would also fund training for providers to assist infants who are born substance exposed.
Additional health care items in the governor’s budget proposal include funding for:
- Implementing Community HealthChoices, Pennsylvania’s new long-term care initiative—This program was launched in Southwestern Pa. on Jan. 1, 2018, and it is scheduled to expand to the remainder of the state within the next two years. CHC is a managed care program intended to increase opportunities for older Pennsylvanians and individuals with physical disabilities to remain in their homes while receiving services. Read the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s (PAMED) frequently asked questions on CHC.
- Lyme Disease Prevention—The governor is proposing to use $2.5 million to implement recommendations from the 2015 Lyme Disease in Pennsylvania Report. The report recommends several prevention, education, awareness, and surveillance activities.
The governor is also recommending the consolidation the Department of Human Services and the Department of Health into a new Department of Health and Human Services.
The next step in Pennsylvania’s budget process will be hearings held by the Pa. House and Pa. Senate during the months of February and March. Lawmakers will have an opportunity to hear testimony from leaders of state agencies. As we do every year, PAMED will closely monitor the upcoming hearings and budget negotiations, and we will share any updates on issues that may impact physicians and patients.
For more details on the budget proposal, check out this Budget-in-Brief Summary released by the governor’s office.