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Senate's Proposed Budget Threatens the Health of Millions of Pennsylvanians
Date:5/19/2009

Senate Cuts Would Curb Health Services, Increase Other Health Care Costs

HARRISBURG, Pa., May 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A budget bill proposed and passed by Senate Republicans would restrict or eliminate vital access to health care and services that protect the health of Pennsylvanians, Secretary of Health Everette James warned today.

"In today's economic climate, access to primary health care is a critical issue for working Pennsylvanians. The Department of Health's programs to expand access to care are responsible for more than 230,000 additional patient visits," said Secretary James. "Senate Bill 850 would eliminate these programs and others that serve our most vulnerable citizens."

Under the cuts contained in Senate Bill 850, funding would no longer be available for additional primary care providers who tend to the health needs of those living in areas with few hospitals, clinics and necessary medical staff.

Compared to the Governor's budget proposal, the Senate plan would reduce funding for the Department of Health's Diabetes Prevention and Control program, Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening program, AIDS programs, Clean Indoor Air enforcement and would reduce the cancer program funding by 50 percent.

Senate Bill 850 would eliminate Pennsylvania's innovative program to detect, report and prevent health care acquired infections, or HAIs, established by Act 52 of 2007. HAIs are preventable infections that patients contract as a result of being admitted to a hospital or nursing home. Act 52 focuses on eliminating health care acquired infections, saving lives and the money currently wasted on treating preventable infections in thousands of patients.

"The Governor made extraordinary strides in combating health care acquired infections and Pennsylvania is a national leader in the effort to track and prevent these infections, including MRSA, a type of drug-resistant bacteria that can be deadly if it is introduced into the bloodstream," said James. "Dropping our efforts to combat these infections will result in increased illness -- and even death -- while costing consumers and taxpayers billions of dollars in unnecessary health care spending."

In 2006, patients with such infections died nearly six times more often than their uninfected counterparts. The average bill for a patient who contracted a health care acquired infection was more than five times that of an uninfected patient.

"The Senate's budget would actually increase health care costs in Pennsylvania," James added. "Government must put the well-being of our citizens first, and that means passing a budget that protects the health of all Pennsylvanians."

    CONTACT:  Stacy Kriedeman
    (717) 787-1783



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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health
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