FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Lawrence Curry
Curry: Corbett’s budget full of gruel
Republican budget leaves vulnerable seniors asking, 'Please sir, may I have some help?'
HARRISBURG, June 30 – State Rep. Lawrence Curry, Democratic chairman of the House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee, released the following statement on Gov. Corbett's signing of the fiscal year 2012-13 state budget:
"As the Charles Dickens character Oliver Twist asked in his workhouse, Governor Corbett and his fellow Republicans are leaving vulnerable seniors to ask, 'Please sir, may I have some help?'
"This budget robs $309 million from the Lottery Fund to help pay the nursing facility program in the General Fund; $59 million more than what Governor Corbett requested in his February budget address. This $59 million represents new lottery revenue generated in recent months by robust ticket sales. By law, the Lottery Fund is supposed to benefit seniors. This money should be used for senior programs and not transferred to the General Fund.
"Act 22* changes to home and community-based service plans, reimbursement rates and provider qualifications are resulting in the loss of $12 million for senior services. Seniors will receive the wrong care, in the wrong setting, at the wrong intensity as their home-care safety net unravels.
"Medicaid reimbursements fall short of the true cost of caring for our frailest residents. As a result, some nursing homes are turning to Pennsylvania's Filial Responsibility Law which requires spouses, parents and children to be responsible for an indigent person's care. Imagine a family trying to make ends meet in this economy, suddenly receiving a $90,000 bill for a parent's nursing home stay.
"Subpar education funding sets the stage for property tax hikes. While seniors struggle to pay their tax bills, businesses will enjoy nearly $300 million in tax breaks contained in this budget.
"Aging at home is a preference for senior citizens. This budget blocks their ability to do so," said Curry, D-Montgomery/Phila.
*Act 22 was enacted with last year's state budget. It gives the Department of Public Welfare Secretary Gary Alexander carte blanche to find $250 million in savings by rooting out fraud, abuse and waste, without any legislative oversight.