Thursday, February 08, 2007

Gov. Rendell's 2007-08 Budget Proposal

On February 6, 2007, Governor Edward G. Rendell presented his Executive Budget Proposal to the Legislature for the Commonwealth's 2007-08 fiscal year. The full text of the Governor's Presentation Message is available here. If interested, you can watch the Governor's address to the Legislature through these links: Address via Windows Media Player or Address via RealPlayer.

Professionals & consumers interested in elder law issues should focus on two aspects of the Budget Proposal --
long-term care and health care.

The Governor's Office issued two press releases on February 6, 2007, specific to those issues:

  • Governor Rendell Says 2007-08 Budget Offers Agenda for PA Progress; Tackles Long-term Challenges -- Excerpts:
    • The 2007-08 budget includes $369 million to pay for federally-mandated services for increased Medical Assistance eligibility, increased rates for managed care, and increased Medicaid utilization services, on top of $41 million of these federal compliance costs built into our budget over the last four years.
    • The Governor’s Pennsylvania Cares initiative also includes:
      • Long Term Living includes $17.2 million in state funds to make significant investments that expand home and community-based services to serve an additional 2,200 persons over age 60 and 1,000 persons with disabilities; * * *
      • PACE Plus Medicare – $276.4 million to fund a comprehensive state pharmaceutical benefit that complements Medicare Part D and ensures that PACE enrollees will not incur an increase in out-of-pocket costs; will enable 357,725 (10 percent increase) people to be served by PACE by June 2008;
      • Medical Assistance – $5.1 billion in state funds to provide services to 1.969 million people, with no reduction in eligibility requirements.
  • Despite Crushing Federal Cuts, Governor Rendell Says 2007-08 Budget Extends Commitment to Affordable, Accessible, Quality Health Care -- Excerpts:
    • Facing another difficult year of dwindling federal support and rising health care costs, Governor Edward G. Rendell today said his bold “Prescription for Pennsylvania” would make quality health care accessible and affordable for all Pennsylvanians.
    • The Governor also outlined his plans to create new and better options for Pennsylvania seniors and persons in need of long-term living services, and he extended his commitment to care for Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens, including children and adults with developmental disabilities.
For a readable overview that touches on both these issues (among others), you can review a 73-slide presentation entitled "PA Cares" (2 MB, PDF format).

For analysis & public reactions to the Budget Proposal, you could watch "Call-In" programs about the proposed new budget broadcast on the
Pennsylvania Cable Network:

Tuesday, February 6, 2007 - 7:00 p.m. (available for online replay here)
Governor's Budget Address
Guests: Mark Singel, Former Pennsylvania Lt. Governor
Robert Jubelirer, Former PA Senate Pro Tempore

Wednesday, February 7, 2007 - 7:00 p.m. LIVE (Update on 02/09/07: available for online replay here)
Topic: PA Budget
Michael Young, Managing Partner, Michael Young Strategic Research
Christopher Borick, Director, Institute of Public Opinion at Muhlenberg College

Thursday, February 8, 2007 - 7:00 p.m. LIVE (Update on 02/09/07: available for online replay here)
PA Budget
Guests: Lowman Henry, Chair & CEO, Lincoln Institute
Sharon Ward, Director, PA Budget & Policy Center

Wednesday, February 14, 2007 - 7:00 p.m. LIVE
Topic: PA Budget
Michael Masch, PA Budget Secretary

According to the House Calendar as of this date, a "Budget Hearing" is scheduled for Representatives on Wednesday, February 14, 2007, beginning at 9:00 am, in Room 140 of the Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg, PA. Detailed budget hearings will resume (according to that Calendar) on Tuesday, February 20th and thereafter.

Perhaps of greater interest to elder law attorneys might be a House committee session that will
precede those budget hearings. Presently scheduled for Tuesday, February 13, 2007, beginning at 10:00 am, is a Joint House Legislative Budget and Finance Committee Meeting on "Medicaid reform efforts in other states and the applicability to PA." That session will be held in Hearing Room 3, Ground Floor, North Office Building, in Harrisburg.
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