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Top 5 Takeaways from the Governor’s Budget Address

February 6, 2018

Here are our top takeaways from the Governor’s budget address for healthcare:

  1. PA has the lowest rate of uninsured in its history, thanks to expanded Medicaid.
  2. PA is a leader in innovative treatment models for the opioid crisis
  3. The Governor is focused on providing better care for seniors and people disabilities through Community Health Choices
  4. The Governor proposed to unify the Departments of Health and Human Services into a streamlined department
  5. The Governor has focused on providing more services to more people with intellectual disabilities and autism.

In-Depth Analysis:

Governor Wolf unveiled a proposed budget that grows at a modest 3.1 percent over last year’s budget, for a total spend $32.9 billion. Twenty-one percent of that proposal is on medical assistance and long term care, of which nearly all of that money is spent on seniors, people with disabilities, and children. The governor has focused on four key healthcare priorities: improving behavioral health treatment for opioid disorders, providing more services to more people with intellectual disabilities and autism, enhancing the care we give to seniors and people with disabilities through Medicaid, and unifying the Departments of Health and Human Services into a streamlined entity.

According to the Wolf Administration’s budget briefing, the budget would:

  • Draw down $26.5 million in federal funding from the second year of the 21st Century Cures Act. The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs will use these funds to supplement existing efforts, support sustainable activities, and focus primarily on expanding access to treatment services with a heavy emphasis on Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT).
  • Include $4.5 million to provide training to service providers and serve approximately 800 families affected by opioid use disorder through evidence-based home visiting models. Pennsylvania continues work to identify resources, break down barriers to treatment, and increase prevention and education efforts. Home visiting providers are uniquely positioned to assist in this effort. These programs empower pregnant women to begin and remain in recovery, provide education to prevent relapse, and educate expectant mothers about Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. This outcome-based investment will also fund training for providers to assist infants who are born substance exposed, as well as the creation of multi-disciplinary teams.
  • Provide an $74 million increase for services for individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism. Within this total, the budget targets $16 million to enroll 965 individuals with an intellectual disability or autism in waivers to provide supports and services so they can remain in their home and community.
  • Continue to fund Community HealthChoices, Pennsylvania’s mandatory managed care program for dually eligible individuals and individuals with physical disabilities, will continue efforts to right-size our long-term care system. This effort will serve more people in communities, allowing them the opportunity to work, spend more time with their families, and experience an overall better quality of life. Once fully implemented, CHC will give Pennsylvanians access to high-quality care in their homes, saving taxpayer dollars by avoiding more costly nursing home care.
  • Commit to consolidating the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services into one, unified department. By breaking down silos and creating one health and human services agency, we will be able to provide care and assistance to Pennsylvanians in a more simplified, cost-effective manner, while ensuring the delivery of high-quality services and supports.

The budget includes a small increase in the budget for Medicaid managed care capitation (1.8%) and a 3.4% increase in Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities. Overall the Health and Human Services combined department would grow by 1.8%. This is a responsible budget that increases critical services and supports, controls spending, and meets the healthcare needs of Pennsylvanians.