Oct. 23, 2017

By Rep. Steve Mentzer (R-Lititz)

Last week, Gov. Tom Wolf chose to veto House Bill 59, the comprehensive Human Services Code bill that would have helped provide critical treatment to opioid abusers; prevent fraud, waste and abuse within the welfare system; pave a pathway to prosperity for those who can work; and save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars through reforms.

Under Gov. Wolf, taxpayer spending for the Department of Human Services (DHS) now equals 38 percent of the overall state budget, and the Medicaid component itself accounts for almost 21.5 percent of the state budget.

Despite a budget crisis that sees families struggling to keep up with the governor’s demands for more of their hard-earned dollars, Wolf he has rapidly expanded entitlement rolls to record levels and has now doubled down with his veto of this sensible reform measure.

Specifically, House Bill 59 would have controlled costs while providing access to those who truly need assistance. The bill would help fight the ongoing opioid crisis by requiring the Department of Human Services to submit a federal waiver so federal dollars can be used for opioid abusers’ treatment after 15 days of inpatient treatment, which is currently prohibited.

The bill also extends provider submissions for child welfare placement costs, preserving nearly $31 million in federal Title IV-E placement maintenance funds. A veto of this bill by the governor would cause the Commonwealth to lose those funds.

The bill also required DHS to seek cost-saving waivers from the federal government prior to seeking additional funding from taxpayers and requires DHS to contract out evaluations of programs that will identify and prevent fraud, waste and abuse. 

Every taxpayer dollar spent frivolously or fraudulently is a dollar that could have been spent on a Pennsylvanian truly in need. Pennsylvanians are generous people, who are glad to support their neighbors facing difficulty, but they rightfully expect their hard-earned money to be spent efficiently and fairly.