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Newsfeed Brief

During his fall campaign, Governor Tom Corbett’s published position on human services opened with the following statement, "Tom Corbett believes that meeting the human service needs of vulnerable Pennsylvanians is a core responsibility of state government." In his first budget proposal, we are relieved to report that he has honored that pledge to the extent possible given his other pledge of no new taxes. On March 16, 2011, Sherry Snyder, Acting Deputy Secretary, Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, gave a budget briefing. Highlights from that briefing include:

  • The proposed budget reflects level funding to the counties
  • There are proposed cuts to the behavioral health care system but they have been done in a way to minimize harm to individuals who receive services.
  • Behavioral Health Services Initiative (BHSI) proposed funding reflects level funding but at the 2010-2011 level following a cut implemented in September 2010
  • Act 152 dollars were also maintained at last year’s level following a reduction of $1.5 million implemented in September 2010
  • Act 152 dollars are moved to capitation within HealthChoices Behavioral Health for FY 2011-2012
  • CHIPPS funded in 2010-2011for six months are annualized in this budget – including 30 CHIPPs at Norristown State Hospital (NSH). Thirty individuals will be moved from NSH to the community before June 30, 2011
  • An increase of $1.5 m for individuals with complex needs discharged from Allentown State Hospital (ASH) who need more costly services
  • Funds ($2.45 m) transferred to Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) which represents 6 month funding for 35 individuals with mental health and intellectual disability needs to move from state hospitals to the community via the waiver program
  • Transfer of funds to ODP waiver program funding for 7 individuals currently residing in the community.
  • Six month funding ($4.95 m) for the discharge of 90 individuals from NSH which will be annualized in next year’s budget 
  • Privatization of state’s two mental health forensic units which accounts for $3 million in savings
  • HealthChoices Behavioral Health Programs remains intact but includes the following cost containment initiatives:
    • 4% cap on HealthChoices reinvestment dollars which will be implemented across the board and result in savings of $11 million in state dollars
    • Redefining Therapeutic Support Services initiative which will result in state dollar savings of $5 million
    • Reduced utilization of Residential Treatment Facilities (RTFs) for children and youth resulting in state savings of $5 million
    • Revisions to provider performance incentives
  • MA initiatives that will impact individuals with regard to pharmacy:
    • Prior authorization for anti-psychotic meds prescribed for anyone under 18
    • Prior authorization for individual prescribed two prescriptions within the same drug class
    • 6 scripts per month limitation – there are exceptions that include medications that individuals with mental illness often use; a listing of specific medications was not provided
  • Dental services (another MA initiative) limited to one exam per year for adults

The Governor’s proposed budget is now in the hands of the General Assembly. Appropriations hearings have been scheduled where administration officials will explain and defend the proposal. The budget includes significant decreases to both basic and higher education funding, which has generated negative response and legislators may look to restore a portion of those cuts. Stay tuned – Newsfeed will provide additional budget information as the process moves forward. Click here if you would like to share your feedback about the budget with Governor Corbett.


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