In his budget proposal, Gov. Tom Corbett has included a 3 percent increase to funding for Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare.
The spending plan includes increases for individuals with mental and physical disabilities; it’s also expected to shorten the waiting list for services.
Some of the increases are tied to cuts in other programs. That concerns Sharon Ward of the left-leaning Pennsylvania Center for Budget and Policy. She also worries about shrinking enrollment in a medical assistance program for the needy.
That’s related to the elimination of a cash grant program last year. Medical assistance often went hand in hand with “general assistance.” When that program was eliminated, state officials said medical assistance would still be available to those who lost general assistance allocations. However it’s reaching far fewer of them.
“I think it’s fair to say that the governor has come to understand that there are a variety of vulnerable people who need help,” said Ward.
“I think he has yet to understand that you can be a poor working family with health problems and need help. Unfortunately, I don’t think that fits the governor’s definition of the deserving poor at this time.”