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Governor Rendell Says 2008-09 Budget Renews Commitment to Vulnerable Pennsylvanians

Wednesday, February 6, 2008 General News J E 4
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Essential Safety Net Services Remain Despite Rising Health Care Costs, Reductions in Federal Support



HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Despite the continuing challenges of reductions in federal funding and soaring health care costs, Governor Edward G. Rendell today remained committed to providing for the needs of Pennsylvania's most vulnerable citizens in his 2008-09 state budget proposal.



The Governor said no Pennsylvanian currently receiving health care and other critical services, specifically children, will experience any reduction in services or lose eligibility under his budget. He pledged to continue working to provide necessary services for the growing number of vulnerable individuals and families in need of assistance.



"Despite the considerable challenges we face again this year, Pennsylvania remains committed to preserving the long-established social safety net that ensures children, people with disabilities, low-income families and older adults continue to have access to critical services and essential health care," Governor Rendell said.



To meet these continued commitments, the Governor's budget includes initiatives that will strengthen provider and consumer incentives, better meet the preferences of vulnerable Pennsylvanians and enable additional investments in quality programs that support children, adults and families in need.



The Governor's budget proposal provides funding to increase the number and types of long-term living options available to older adults and persons with disabilities. It includes a $29.2 million investment in community-based infrastructure that expands long-term living options, representing a focused effort to create a balanced system that uses resources efficiently, offers consumers choices and ensures high-quality care.



Pennsylvania continues to face a growing demand for long-term living services for seniors and persons with disabilities. One-in-five Pennsylvania residents is over the age of 60, while another 162,000 adults under the age of 60 have some level of a disability that requires assistance on a daily basis. The Governor's budget makes significant new investments in Pennsylvania's long-term living system, including:



-- Providing $3.1 million to increase the availability of adult day care, enabling caregivers to continue to provide support for their loved ones in their homes and delaying or preventing the need for institutional care;



-- Investing $1.3 million in administrative resources to begin licensing, certifying and inspecting assisted living residences, a new residential long-term living option created in 2007; and



-- An increase of $12.2 million in state funds for programs that serve people with physical disabilities, providing services for over 1,100 additional people;



The Governor's budget also includes several, significant initiatives to help the growing number of children and families in need of assistance. Specific initiatives include:



-- Continuing programs that support independence for people with mental retardation and mental health disabilities, including an additional $4.4 million to provide home and community-based services to 91 people currently living in state mental hospitals;



-- Building on the major initiative from 2007 to reduce the number of people with mental retardation on the waiting list for services, this budget would provide an additional $28.3 million for community mental retardation services, offering home and community-based options for over 1,800 individuals, including 750 young people leaving the special education system;



-- Providing $7.6 million in services and supports for 400 additional adults living with autism;



-- An increase of $4.
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