Faced with a looming state budget deadline, a $1.44 billion budget gap, and the loss of $320 million in federal payments, hospitals and nursing homes are doing what we do every day in doctor’s offices, hospital rooms, and senior centers across the state. We are taking steps to achieve the best possible outcomes for those entrusted to our care.
In the case of Pennsylvania’s difficult budget negotiations, we consider it our job to look out for the commonwealth’s health. That’s why The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania along with LeadingAge PA, an association for long-term care providers, and other health care groups have formed a coalition to address our state’s health care funding crisis. We are obligated to help policymakers find the revenues needed to safeguard Pennsylvanians’ access to crucial health and senior services during the coming year.
The solution the coalition supports—a 60 cent increase to Pennsylvania’s cigarette tax—does just that. The tax increase gives the commonwealth the $320 million needed to replace the federal health care funding that will be lost next year due to changes in a funding formula called the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, or “FMAP.” Cuts in health care services and jobs will be avoided, and access to care will be protected.
Of course, increasing the cigarette tax also will reduce smoking—and the birth complications, heart attacks, strokes, and cancer cases that go with it—improving Pennsylvania’s health as well as sustaining its health care.
Indications to date suggest that state lawmakers agree. Pennsylvania’s health and health care are worth 60 cents a pack. Now it’s your turn to join the conversation and help solve our state’s budget crisis. Tell state policymakers that you support an increase to the state cigarette tax to support health care: www.haponline.org/YourTurn .
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