In his proposal for Pennsylvania’s 2012-2013 budget, Governor Corbett announced deep cuts to General Assistance (GA) programs that serve the state’s neediest, most vulnerable residents.
The Governor’s budget calls for eliminating GA cash assistance entirely and slashing funding of GA-related Medical Assistance by as much as two-thirds.
The elimination of GA cash assistance will affect 67,000 Pennsylvanians living in poverty, including survivors of domestic violence, disabled or sick individuals, those caring for a sick or disabled person, and adults in drug and alcohol treatment programs.GA-related Medical Assistance pays for a limited amount of basic medical care to these individuals and many other Pennsylvanians making less than $215 or $425 per month. The Department of Public Welfare has not yet shared how it plans to implement the $170 million in planned cuts to this program. Based on the magnitude of these cuts, we estimate that as many as 80,000 of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable residents could lose access to critical medical care.
Another key change announced in the proposal is an increase in the premium rate for workers in the MAWD program (Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities), a Medical Assistance program which allows disabled individuals to work without losing their health care coverage.
The governor also plans to consolidate several human services programs into block grants to counties, resulting in a 20% cut to funding for child welfare programs and programs that serve individuals and families struggling with mental and behavioral health issues, intellectual disabilities, and homelessness.
The governor’s proposed budget now goes to the General Assembly for legislative action that will begin with Appropriations hearings and culminate in legislation by June 30, 2012. A lot can change in the months between a budget’s proposal and its passage, including restoration of funding or increases in cuts to individual programs. PHLP will continue to provide updates as we learn more.