Monday, July 19, 2010

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: July 19, 2010

Federal

Act Now: Pennsylvania Could See an $850 Million Hole in the Recently Passed State Budget


While the state budget has been passed and signed, there is unfortunately still work to do as the budget includes $850 million in federal funding that Congress has yet to approve. Without the funding, layoffs at all levels of government, as well as teachers and emergency workers, and additional cuts to programs are likely.

This funding would come from the extension of the federal percentage of matching funds for state Medicaid expenditures, known as the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP). The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 enhanced the FMAP contribution for states through December 2010. Legislation now before Congress would extend the enhanced FMAP funding to states through June 2011, but the bill has stalled.

If Congress fails to approve the FMAP funding, the Governor and legislators will have to find another way to balance the budget, which will likely require cuts in funding for critical human services.

If you believe this funding is important, please contact your federal legislators today and urge them to extend FMAP. Below is a sample message. Please feel free to add your own stories and thoughts about why this funding is so important.

Dear


As a member of your district, I am writing today to urgently ask you to continue the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) for states in the coming year. Pennsylvania recently passed a state budget that included $850 million in FMAP funding that has not yet been passed by Congress. With the additional funding, the General Assembly was able to limit the cuts that were made to programs that truly help Pennsylvanians during this particularly difficult time, such as adult literacy and education, job training, child care, health care, and other supports vital to success in this economy.



Please continue to support workers, families, and children by passing the FMAP extension and ensuring critical programs are available for Pennsylvanians.

Restrictions on Abortion Coverage in High-Risk Pools

One of the initial steps in health care reform is the creation of high-risk pools by either the federal government or the states. The high-risk pools will provide health care to individuals with pre-existing conditions who have been unable to afford or find coverage (for more information about the high-risk pool in PA please see below).

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services announced information about the federal high-risk pool, including news that coverage for an abortion will only be allowed in cases of rape, incest or danger to the woman’s life.

This will mean that thousands of women with serious medical conditions will lack coverage for abortions they may need because of risks to their health or the health of a developing fetus. These women will not even be permitted to use their own premium dollars to buy this coverage through the new federal and state high-risk pool plans.

Please urge the Department to reconsider this decision.

City

Additional Cuts to Philadelphia’s Budget

Last week, Mayor Nutter announced $47 million in additional cuts to Philadelphia’s budget. While the City Council passed a budget, the Mayor is permitted to reduce spending for any departments in order to balance the budget.

The additional cuts include:

  • Reduction of police overtime ($6.3 million)
  • Cancellation of two police academy classes ($4.5 million);
  • Rolling closure of fire departments ($3.6 million);
  • Cuts to programs targeting at-risk children in the Department of Human Services ($1.8 million);
  • Cuts to the new tree planting program in the Department of Parks and Recreation ($2.5 million);
  • Reduction in the city’s contribution to Philadelphia’s Community College ($1 million); and
  • 10 city workers from the Office of Supportive Housing will be laid off.

Despite the additional cuts, the Mayor did restore funding for libraries, which will now remain open five days a week. Now the revised budget will need approval from the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, a state agency responsible for overseeing the city budget.

Information/Events

High-Risk Pools

Thank you to our friends at the Pennsylvania Health Access Network for the information below.

As a result of health care reform, Pennsylvania will soon be setting up a high-risk pool, which will provide health care for about 5,100 people. To be eligible for the high-risk pool an individual must be a resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and meet all of the following criteria:

  1. Is a citizen or national of the United States or is lawfully present in the United States, as required by the federal Affordable Care Act.
  2. Has not been covered under creditable coverage during the six-month period prior to the date the individual is applying for coverage under the program.
  3. Has evidence that the individual has one of the following:
  • A pre-existing condition, as listed by the state Department of Insurance.
  • Denial of health insurance coverage due to a pre-existing condition.
  • Coverage available only with the exclusion of a pre-existing condition.
  • Health insurance coverage quoted at a substandard rate due to a pre-existing condition.

If eligible, the benefits include:

  • Prescription drug and serious mental health coverage,
  • Preventive care is 100 percent covered in network. This includes annual physical examinations, annual mammograms and gynecological exams,
  • For in-network use, there is a $5,000 annual out-of-pocket maximum and no lifetime limit,
  • 80 percent of emergency room visits are covered after the yearly deductible, and
  • $1,000 yearly deductible.

The average premium will be about $283.20 a month and enrollment is scheduled to open July 21st.

For more information please visit the Approved State Proposal to Operate a High Risk Pool which is available under “Health Care Reform & You” on the Department of Insurance website. If you have question the Department’s consumer hotline number is 1-877-881-6388, email ra-in-consumer@state.pa.us.

New Foreclosure Guides

The Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition has published two publications aimed at helping homeowners avoid foreclosure. Foreclosure can be a stressful and complicated process. These guides were produced to help homeowners understand the process so that they can take control.

GPUAC’s Summer/Fall 2010 Foreclosure Prevention Guide was developed to assist professionals such as housing counselors, attorneys, and lenders. It was created by the Foreclosure Prevention Task Force, a group of bankers, housing advocates, government officials, and community leaders working to combat the foreclosure crisis. Another guide is Navigating the Slippery Slope of Foreclosure, which is a brochure that provides step-by-step instructions homeowners should take, based their individual circumstances, to avoid losing their homes.

Both guides can be used by social workers and case managers when homeowners at risk of foreclosure turn to them for help.


PathWays PA Information and Initiatives

PathWays PA Offers Expedited Career Path to First Responders and EMT

PathWays PA is offering eligible job seekers free education and training to achieve certification as a First Responder followed by Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification.

Successful candidates will have:
  • Achieved qualifying scores on WorkKeys® Assessment
  • Clean criminal background check
  • No back problems or physical restrictions
  • The ability to lift 125 pounds 33 inches off the ground and carry for 10 feet
  • Willingness to working with and touch all people
  • A valid drivers license (or the ability to obtain one during training)
  • Ability to pay attention to detail and flexibility to change course as circumstances warrant
  • Willingness to work different shifts and weekends


If the above qualifications are met, then an individual may be eligible for the training, which includes:
  • 6 weeks of Math/English Skills building classes
  • CPR Training and Certification
  • 50 hours of First Responder Training
  •  77 hours of EMT training over 7 weeks
  • Career coaching support 

Please feel free to share this information with your clients and networks.  For more information please call 610-543-5022 and ask for  Jennifer Oglesbee at extension 256 or joglesbee@pathwayspa.org or Barbara Lewis at extension 228 or blewis@pathwayspa.org

Self Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2010-2011

PathWays PA is proud to announce that we released the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2010-2011.  The Standard measures how much income a family of a certain composition in a given place must earn to meet their basic needs without public or private assistance.
Some ways the Standard can be and has been used include:
  • Funding - When applying for funding, the Standard promotes a new way to measure need and success
  • Eligibility - When creating or evaluating programs, using the Standard as an eligibility limit opens the programs to new populations
  • Reference - When discussing financial needs with board members, staff, or clients, the Standard establishes a new measure of reference

If you would like to receive a copy or have any questions about the Standard please contact policy@pathwayspa.org or call 215-543-5022 X255.

Online Training and Benefits Eligibility Tool

The Online Training and Benefits Eligibility Tool (OTBET) is an online tool that allows staff and clients to determine their personal Self-Sufficiency Standard and benefits eligibility for their own families. 
This is an easy to use tool that determines eligibility for multiple programs including LIHEAP, food stamps (SNAP), child care assistance, and CHIP.  Once eligibility is determined, link are provided to connect staff or client to COMPASS and other programs that clients may find useful. 

PathWays PA Resource Library Blog

The VISTA members at PathWays PA have developed a Resource Library Blog in order to facilitate the sharing of resources online.  The Resource Library is a compilation of financial education and asset development resources, public benefits information and career tools for agency staff and community members.

The blog covers topics including:


If you come across a good resource that you think should be a part of the blog, you may send an email to pathways.pa.vistas@gmail.com.  Be sure to reference the resource library in the subject line. 

We encourage you to use this resource to your benefit, and welcome any feedback regarding topics you would like to see addressed in the blog.

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