Proposal to funnel health care funding through block grants divides Pennsylvanians

Written by Scott Detrow, StateImpact Pennsylvania Reporter | Jun 5, 2012 10:56 PM

(Harrisburg) -- The Corbett administration has won a key supporter in its effort to change the way Pennsylvania government pays for county-level health care programs. Governor Corbett wants to eliminate the program-by-program funds counties receive from the state, and replace them with one large block grant. This week, the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania endorsed the plan. Berks County Commissioner Christian Leinbach says fewer payments and paperwork will give counties more flexibility. "This is not something being done to us. This is something that we are doing jointly with this administration," he says. But George Kimes, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Community Providers Association, has concerns. "Block grants tend to do several negative things. One is, they're an easy vehicle to reduce funding." In fact, Corbett's budget proposal cuts funding for county health programs by 20 percent. Kimes also worries money currently earmarked for public health efforts could be spent elsewhere, once restrictions are lifted. The Corbett administration wants the change to go into effect on July 1st, but the House and Senate still need to approve the block grant initiative.

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