Governor Wolf’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2016-2017 makes strategic investments that Pennsylvania’s seniors, children and families need to succeed. Pennsylvania faces a nearly $2-billion-dollar deficit. We can either raise revenue to address our budget crisis and make smart investments that will result in long term savings or we can cut vital services for our Commonwealth’s seniors, children and people with disabilities.
We need to turn to solutions that work to improve people’s lives while decreasing future costs. Governor Wolf’s recently announced proposed budget turns toward such solutions and seeks to address many of the social determinants of health that, when unaddressed, drive costs even higher. One-time budget fixes and cuts to essential services only continue to push our Commonwealth further into crisis.
The 2016-17 proposed Wolf budget features several initiatives to drive long-term savings. These include ensuring that people with disabilities and the elderly are able to receive the care they need in their homes and the community rather than forcing them into more expensive institutionalized care, ensuring that care is quickly received for those who need it, intervening early on in the lives of our most vulnerable families and expanding treatment for those confronted with substance use disorder.
Here are some of the line items:
- Expanding home-and community-based care: $92 M
- Restoring human services cuts for county-based programs: $28 M
- Reducing waiting lists for intellectual disabilities, autism and child care: $24 M
- Intervening with evidence-based home visitations for at-risk infants, toddlers and their families: $10 M
- Combating the heroin and opioid epidemic by treating over 11,250 new individuals and providing 50 new Health Homes for individuals with substance use disorder: $34 M
- Expanding treatment options and community-based services for those with substance use disorders, mental health conditions, homelessness, or veterans-related issues instead of incarceration by creating new problem-solving courts and expanding intermediate punishment options: $2.3 M
The Wolf Administration proposes spending on these issues while at the same time reducing costs in other areas. By moving the Children’s Health Insurance Program to the Department of Human Services, the Commonwealth not only saves $100 million, but also ensures children transition between coverage options smoothly and identifies uninsured children more quickly. Similarly, moving the eHealth Partnership Authority to the same department reduces operations costs by $1 million annually.
We believe that Governor Wolf’s budget is an important step in protecting the health and well-being of Pennsylvanians. We can no longer afford solutions that kick the can down the road at the expense of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable tax payers.