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Governor Wolf to Focus on Bipartisan Health Reform in 2021 Budget

February 3, 2021

On Wednesday, February 3rd, Governor Wolf gave his budget address to the General Assembly. He discussed his hopes and priorities for the 2021 year, including his goals for healthcare. Here’s what you need to know:

What is the Budget Address? 
Every February, the Governor of Pennsylvania gives a speech to the State House and State Senate (known together as the General Assembly) that outlines the Governor’s priorities for the year.

This address gives the General Assembly a starting point for their budget hearings and budget legislation.

How Does this Impact Healthcare? 
Governor Wolf’s 2021 legislative plan makes it clear that increasing affordability in healthcare is a priority. Specifically, Governor Wolf is focused on his previously announced Whole Person Health Initiative, which includes creating a Health Value Commission in Pennsylvania

This initiative will examine why healthcare costs are so high, make recommendations as to how we can lower them, and create more transparency in healthcare. Focusing on this will increase affordability and equity in coverage for all Pennsylvanians, something that’s especially critical during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What Happens Next? 
Now that the budget address has been given, the General Assembly will get to work. Over the next few weeks, the General Assembly will hold hearings to decide how state funds will be spent. Officials from the Department of Human Services, Department of Health and others will get a chance to tell legislators about their plans for the next year, and make their case for why they should receive a certain amount of money.

After the hearings conclude, legislators will begin to write a budget bill. That legislation will then go through the legislative process in the PA House and Senate, and will need to be signed into law by Governor Wolf.

Unlike typical legislation, however, this bill has a deadline, and must be signed into law by June 30th, 2021, as the new fiscal year begins on July 1st, 2021.

PHAN will be watching the budget hearings closely, and will provide updates as new information comes out.  You can view a recording of the budget address here, and read more about the budget here.