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In the News

House Republican leaders told Governor Wolf he has 24 hours to prove that he has enough votes in the House to pass a spending and tax proposal he supports. If he cannot show he has the votes, House Republican leadership said they will propose a stopgap funding bill to end the state government’s five-and-a-half month budget stalemate.

According to House Majority Leader Dave Reed, he wants to hold final votes this weekend. As of today, the governor, both caucuses in the Senate, as well as House Democrats, support the $30.8 billion budget as well as the $1 billion-plus tax plan. The House Republican majority wants a pared down $30.2 billion budget which would include smaller spending and tax increases.

It should be an interesting day at the Capitol. The governor must have all 83 (Rep. Louise Bishop resigned on Wednesday) of the House Democrat Caucus be in favor of the budget – to date, not all members of the Democrat Caucus have supported the governor’s budget proposal. In addition, the governor would have to pick up between 20 and 30 Republican votes, depending on whether members of his own caucus go against him.

Stay tuned! RCPA will continue to provide updates on the budget. RCPA encourages members to continue to contact the governor and state legislators to inform them why it’s necessary for them to pass a state budget sooner rather than later. Questions, contact Jack Phillips.

This article from Capitolwire is a good and extensive overview of what is going on with the budget here in Harrisburg. Health and Human service budget line items are still fluid until the House and Senate negotiate a final budget deal. RCPA will provide updates on any budget deal, and RCPA encourages members to continue to contact the governor and state legislators to inform them why it’s necessary for them to pass a state budget sooner rather than later. Questions, contact Jack Phillips.

Dr. Levine is currently physician general for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine. A graduate of Harvard College and Tulane University of School of Medicine, Dr. Levine has worked in the field of adolescent medicine since 1988. As Physician General, Dr. Levine advises the governor and the secretary of health on health policy, and participates in the decision-making process of other executive departments on medical and public health-related issues.

At the Department of Health, Dr. Levine has focused on Pennsylvania’s need to increase its childhood vaccination rates. The Department of Health’s “Don’t Wait. Vaccinate.” campaign urges all children to be fully vaccinated before they start school. Vaccines are among the most effective and safe tools available for preventing harm and death to children. Under Governor Wolf’s leadership, the Department of Health is working to ensure that we not only have ‘schools that teach’ but ‘healthy schools that teach’ in Pennsylvania.

Dr. Levine also serves as a lead in the Commonwealth’s efforts to combat the largest public health crisis in PA, the prevalence of opioid overdoses and deaths. Every day, Pennsylvania loses at least seven citizens to overdose deaths. Earlier this year, Dr. Levine signed a standing order to ensure that first responders, such as the Pennsylvania State Police and municipal fire companies, can carry and administer naloxone, a life-saving over-dose reversal medication. Dr. Levine worked with expert stakeholders to create opioid prescribing guidelines for dentists and doctors. She continues to support the work by the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, to ensure that treatment is available and opioid dependent individuals receive a facilitated referral, called a ‘warm hand-off,’ to recovery treatment.

Additionally, Dr. Levine will continue to utilize her position as physician general to call attention to the prevalence of eating disorders, the importance of suicide prevention among young people, and the significance of successful adolescent sexual health programs.

On Friday (September 18), Stan Mrozowski informed RCPA staff and others that he had relinquished his position as Director of the Children’s Bureau at the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS). Dr. Mrozowski noted that “there have been discussions recently in the Department of Human Services about the role of the Bureau and the decision has been made to make a change.” In his farewell message, Stan noted that “I leave with immense satisfaction about the many accomplishments over the past 12 years during which I have been the Director of the Children’s Bureau. I have very few regrets – mostly only that we did not do even more to help children and families in the Commonwealth. I also leave with appreciation for having worked with so many fine people who truly care about youth and families. I will truly miss the friendship and the collegiality that has made the work so rewarding.” RCPA will follow up with OMHSAS leadership to explore and report on any other changes that are planned for their management of children’s behavioral health services in the future.