News Release: State Budget Includes Key HAP Advocacy Items But Leaves Out PA Heroes Act
Plan Fully Funds Hospital Budget Lines and Ensures Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement Will Continue
Harrisburg, PA – The General Assembly today passed the state’s $39.78 billion Fiscal Year (FY) 2021–2022 budget, and the Governor is expected to sign the budget legislation. Included in the budget were some of The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania’s (HAP) key advocacy items, but it left out the Health Care Heroes and Public Health Preparedness Act (“PA Heroes Act”).
The budget plan fully funds Medicaid supplemental budget lines for trauma centers and obstetric, neonatal intensive care, and burn units. Medicaid supplemental lines the commonwealth’s critical access hospitals were given an increase to account for additional hospitals or units becoming part of the system during FY 2021–2022.
It also ensures programs funded from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) will continue to be fully funded for FY 2021–2022. These include payments to hospitals for uncompensated care or extraordinary expense.
Left out of the budget was the PA Heroes Act. HAP has been aggressively advocating for SB 642, the PA Heroes Act, which would have set aside $650 million of Pennsylvania’s share of the American Rescue Plan Act to support grants for community programs to bolster post-pandemic health care.
HAP president and CEO, Andy Carter released the following statement:
“While we are grateful for the continued legislative support for long-standing hospital priorities, the failure to address newly emerging challenges is worrisome. Our hospitals kept communities safe, treated COVID and non-COVID patients, and effectively managed any potential of being overwhelmed. This can only be attributed to their knowledge and the professionals who are trained to respond to situations like the pandemic. While they continue to keep their doors open and serve their communities, many are paddling feverishly below the calm surface.
We offered a carefully crafted plan to support healthcare workers, to rebuild the infrastructure we need for the next pandemic, and to address the behavioral health crisis exacerbated by COVID-19. The plan is also specifically designed to target resources where they are needed and includes strict accountability for implementing real improvements to care. Yet, lawmakers are leaving town with those plans sitting on the drawing board, ignored. It’s a troubling message they are sending to the nearly 300,000 healthcare heroes working in our hospitals.
Come fall, be assured, we will continue to work with members of the General Assembly on both sides of the aisle to put Pennsylvania back on track to building the healthcare system that has been so badly shaken by COVID. With future pandemics all but certain, continued neglect of the rebuilding work to be done would be the wrong way to go.”
The commonwealth identified $2.52 billion of the General Fund’s surplus to be deposited in the state’s Rainy Day fund, increasing the fund’s total to $2.76 billion. $5 billion of federal relief funds will go unspent to be used in future budgets.
ABOUT HAP: HAP is a statewide membership services organization that advocates for nearly 240 Pennsylvania acute and specialty care, primary care, subacute care, long-term care, home health, and hospice providers, as well as the patients and communities they serve. Additional information about HAP is available online at www.haponline.org.