HARRISBURG, March 25, 2011 — At a recent Senate Appropriations Committee budget hearing, state Sen. John P. Blake voiced his concerns over Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed cuts to health services and health care delivery.

In questioning Acting Health Secretary Dr. Evi Avila, Blake took aim at the proposed elimination of state funding for Scranton’s Commonwealth Medical College, the four regional cancer centers and a $3 million cut to three area hospitals.

“This budget proposal not only weakens our ability to provide quality education, but it also drastically reduces state support for NEPA’s top-notch hospitals and health organizations – all of which can ill afford funding reductions,” Blake said. “Eliminating funding for the two-year old Commonwealth Medical College undermines our long-term health care planning needs while risking the future of the college and its medical students.”

Gov. Corbett wants to eliminate the $3.8 million budget line item for the college. Blake said the funding elimination, which accounts for 20 percent of the school’s total operating income, would significantly harm the college’s fiscal position, compromising its ability to meet accreditation requirements and endangering millions of dollars of taxpayer investment.

Blake, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, also criticized the Corbett budget for falling back into a more expensive, reactive role in public health rather than being proactive and preventive by funding programs such as the regional cancer institutes that have already proven to save lives and money with early diagnosis and treatment.

“In a time of economic recession, elected officials need to look for ways to help – not hurt – our constituents,” Blake added. “By taking funding from our hospitals, regional cancer institutes and the state’s newest medical school, we would effectively reduce the quality of care, relinquish our ability to detect cancer in its earliest stages and force our future doctors to look to other states for their education and work.”

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