Increased assistance in Pennsylvania.

The government has increased the amount of assistance that Pennsylvania is providing to local towns, cities, and counties. Arguing that Pennsylvania families "need help now" to weather the recession, and to pay their bills, mortgage, and other expenses, the state of Pennsylvania is now redirecting tens of millions of dollars for additional home-heating bill assistance, health insurance, foreclosure counseling, mortgage assistance, and job-counseling and training programs. Much of the money is originating from the federal government and is part of the Recovery Act.

Overall the state is doing what it can to increase assistance for the elderly, seniors, families with children and disabled low-income Pennsylvanians. This additional government funding will prevent many local towns and counties in Pennsylvania from having to make cuts at a time when more people than ever need help and are relying on public aid.

Calling the new assistance programs and emergency funding "emergency economic relief," the Pennsylvania governor said he would immediately offer health insurance coverage to over 15,000 individuals and people who are now on a waiting list for the state-subsidized health-insurance program for lower-income adults. Over 200,000 adults and residents are on the adultBasic waiting list now, with just 25,000 of them being added just last month.

The Governor also said that he would move about $5 million into an existing fund that helps recently unemployed state residents pay their rent and mortgage while looking for jobs. This additional money will be paid out in the form of vouchers and grants, and it could potentially help an additional 550 families with their bills, the governor said. This will also help prevent homelessness in the state, and ensure people have adequate shelter.

In addition, the governor also said that he will extend the state's home-heating assistance program for lower income residents by an additional week (to April 3) to provide an additional $6.6 million in grants to help with paying winter heating bills.





Job-counseling training workshops will also be funded between now and the end of next year in every county. Pennsylvania has also created a Web site allowing residents to find the cheapest price for prescription drugs and medicines in their area.

Other forms of job training is also being funded. The Pennsylvania economic relief plan will provide the unemployed and underemployed with job training and access to a number of tax credits, grant programs, unemployment services, public assistance programs, and funding. Counselors and case managers will help people prepare and find a new job.

Educational services, including colleges and local districts, are receiving an increased amount of funding from the state as well. Pennsylvania, using resources from the Recovery Act and other funding program, provides financial support to local school districts to provide increased financial assistance for students to attend college and keep teachers in classrooms. A higher level of education should help people gain the skills, and then the jobs, they need for self-sufficiency.

Money will help pay for medical bills and expand health care coverage as well. Pennsylvania is reallocating millions of dollars to help pay the health care costs for the disabled, elderly and working poor families under the Medicaid program. Many children are now able to receive the care they need. Money is going to assist indigent families, provide for job training, and enhance unemployment services.




By Jon McNamara

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