HARRISBURG – Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46) issued the following statement today after supporting passage of an interim state budget plan and a package of bills to allocate $2.6 billion in funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to support local communities:
“Passing a short-term budget is the most fiscally responsible approach we could take given the large number of unknowns that we face going forward. Funding our most critical services for the next five months will give us time to determine what impact the virus will have on our economy and ensure the state does not spend beyond our means in the months ahead as we grapple with the long-term effects of this crisis.
“I am thankful that I was able to support a package of bills along with the budget that includes critical support to our communities through the distribution of CARES Act funding. This package ensures this funding along with vital budget dollars are distributed through the proper channels instead of giving the governor a blank check to do whatever he pleases. The public health pandemic and the governor’s shutdown orders have caused immeasurable damage to our entire state, both in terms of lives lost and families impacted. Today we are taking critical steps to repair this damage and get our communities and our Commonwealth back on track.
“I am relieved to see additional funding included for ventilator care in Pennsylvania. Providers of these services were suffering even before the pandemic, and COVID-19 has stretched their resources to the breaking point. Last fall I introduced Senate Bill 959 to provide additional reimbursement for nursing facilities that treat a large percentage of patients who require this highly specialized care that is being jeopardized due to chronic underfunding by Medicaid.
“The short-term funding we approved today will help preserve access to care for some of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable patients and buy us valuable time to continue to work towards the much needed long-term solution that SB 959 would provide.
“Patients in nursing homes and long-term care settings have suffered significantly during this crisis. The additional funding for these facilities will offer a lifeline and ensure they can meet the needs of patients safely. Additional funding for hospitals, health systems, services for individuals with developmental disabilities or autism, rent and mortgage assistance for affected workers, child care assistance, first responders mental health services and small businesses will all play a role in helping us weather the current storm and recover from this pandemic in the months ahead.
“I have said from the beginning of this crisis that we need to focus on protecting both lives and livelihoods – these are not mutually exclusive goals. I am proud that we took a big step today toward both of those objectives by delivering CARES Act funding where it is needed most.”
CONTACT: Colleen Greer (717) 787-1463