Higher Education and Welfare Funding Slashed in Proposed 2012-2013 State Budget

Higher education and welfare programs were once again on the state chopping block as Gov. Tom Corbett released his proposed 2012-2013 state budget of $27.14 billion on Feb. 7, 2012.

Protecting funding for health-related programs critical to patient care and access remains a top legislative priority this session for the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED).

In the proposed budget funding to state-related universities Penn State, Pitt, and Temple was cut by 30 percent, which would have a significant impact on their academic medical centers. The budget also proposes an approximately 20 percent cut to the 14 state-owned universities of the State System of Higher Education. All of this comes only a year after Gov. Corbett cut funding to the schools be almost 20 percent in the 2011-2012 budget.

The Department of Public Welfare’s (DPW) overall budget is slated to decrease by $30 million, but at the same time a $600-$800 million increase is expected in the cost of providing mandated services. The increases are subsidized by the $319 million that Gov. Corbett plans to save through changes to the state’s General Assistance program. Proposed changes include eliminating cash assistance payments for about 60,000 program participants and setting a minimum work requirement of 100 hours per month or 20 hours per week for the estimated 30,000 General Assistance recipients who receive Medicaid benefits.

If the governor’s proposal passes, funding to the Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement (CURE) program also will be eliminated. This will have significant impact on Pennsylvania’s colleges and research universities that perform health research.

The medical society is analyzing the proposed budget to determine how it will impact physicians and their patients, and will soon provide a detailed summary.

The proposed budget, which contains no new taxes, represents a decrease of $20 million (.1 percent) in spending from the 2011-2012 budget.

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