- The State Budget and Welfare Code Changes - What Does This Mean to the Healthcare Arena
- July 14, 2011
- Law Firm: Rhoads Sinon LLP - Harrisburg Office
Given the lean state budget, this would be a challenging time for all of the stakeholders in the healthcare arena. However, recent changes to the Welfare Code make it likely that things will quickly get worse for all of those stakeholders, perhaps permanently.
On the same day that he signed the budget into law, Governor Corbett also signed a bill amending the Welfare Code. Those amendments make significant changes to the Code but, most significantly, allow the Department of Public Welfare to make significant changes in the Code without seeking legislative approval or submitting those changes to the normal regulatory review process. Given the budget situation, it is not likely these changes will benefit any of the stakeholders.
Specifically, the new law permits DPW to change benefit levels, benefit packages and provider reimbursement rates and methodologies without the need even to give the public or the stakeholders notice of its proposed action unless such notice is otherwise required by federal law. DPW retains this power to promulgate binding regulations in these areas and others without regulatory review until the end of fiscal year 2011-12. However, there is no sunset provision so these changes could be long lasting or even permanent.
It will be critical for all stakeholders to get early notice of any action which DPW takes under this grant of authority. Time to challenge such actions before they have significant impact will be limited.