(For the record, we asked for a response from Gov. Corbett. Big shocker -- no response!)
If you are elected, will you ensure that HIV positive Pennsylvanians have access to nutrition and housing through:
Restoring General Assistance?
I believe Pennsylvania's playing field isn't fair for the majority of its people. Under Governor Corbett, corporations and the wealthy get all the breaks, while hardworking families all across the Commonwealth struggle to get by. We must work to give all Pennsylvanians equal opportunity for jobs, economic security, and happiness regardless of where they live, the connections of their lobbyist, or who they love.
I know Governor Corbett’s decision to eliminate General Assistance unfairly impacted residents living with HIV and AIDS. As governor, I will work to restore General Assistance for our most vulnerable residents.
Restoring Governor Corbett’s cuts to food assistance and providing additional SNAP benefits to alleviate federal cuts?
Governor Corbett’s asset test for SNAP benefits is just another example of how he has embraced policies intended to hurt our most vulnerable residents. For the overwhelming majority of those who lost their SNAP benefits, it was not because their assets exceed Governor Corbett’s extremely low bar, it was because the paperwork required was too difficult and confusing. As governor, I will repeal the SNAP asset test and I will work to ensure that the federal SNAP cuts do not affect Pennsylvania families.
Increasing the state's commitment to the State Affordable Housing Trust Fund. How will you do this?
Providing affordable housing options to low income Pennsylvanians is essential. As governor, I will investigate options to improve access to affordable housing and explore the possibility of increasing the funding and scope of coverage for the Housing Trust Fund.
Allowing supportive housing services such as drug and alcohol treatment, housing counseling, and social work to be paid for through Medicaid reimbursement?
As governor, I will look for innovative ways to use Medicaid reimbursements so that low-income residents, including the chronically homeless, have access to the health and social supports to rebuild their lives and have a productive, independent, and healthy future.
Applying for a Medicaid waiver to allow state Medicaid funds to pay for housing construction and rental assistance for people with HIV/AIDS, and committing $5 million dollars of state money for HIV- specific housing?
I know it is essential we think about health care as more than just medical care. To have a healthy population, we need to meet more than just medical needs. Our residents need safe, permanent housing options, high quality schools, and accessible social services. As governor, I will examine different waiver options that will allow us to use Medicaid dollars to address those needs that impact health outcomes.
Allowing local governments that invest in housing programs to share in the state’s resulting savings in Medicaid and prison costs?
A significant amount of the State’s budget is distributed to local governments for the purpose of providing key services to our residents. As governor, I will work to direct State funds to high quality programs that have proven to have long-term positive benefits for those who participate. Directing our tax dollars to such programs will result in cost savings that can be reinvested in additional high quality programs for residents.
Creating housing first policies that provide housing for individuals regardless of mental health status or drug or alcohol addiction?
I know that housing first policies positively impact chronically homeless residents. As governor, I will work with local governments and other key stakeholders to explore ways to make housing affordable and accessible to all residents.
Increasing the state's contribution to HOPWA whenever federal funding is cut or flatlined?
As stated above, I will work to ensure that all residents have access to affordable housing. I know that for individuals living with HIV and AIDS, safe, long-term housing is directly tied to positive health outcomes.
Will you ensure every Pennsylvanian has access to HIV prevention, through:
Expanding Medicaid without punitive measures for people who miss premiums (e.g. people should not lose coverage for 3 months if they miss a single payment)?
Yes, I believe it is essential that we expand Medicaid. Governor Corbett’s Healthy PA is just another move by his administration to direct taxpayers’ dollars to private companies at the expense of hardworking Pennsylvanians. As governor, I will expand access to Medicaid, which will increase health care coverage to nearly half-a-million Pennsylvanians, save the Commonwealth millions of dollars, and pump billions into the state’s economy.
Implementing the Affordable Care Act’s coverage of routine opt-out HIV screening at every medical visit, in a way that respects the human right to privacy?
Yes, I will support efforts to incorporate opt-out HIV screening into regular medical appointments.
Restoring Corbett’s cuts to HIV prevention that amounted to 40% cuts in Philadelphia over three years?
As governor, I will work hard to ensure that HIV prevention and treatment programs are appropriately funded so that we can stop the spread of this disease and finally achieve an AIDS-free generation.
Ensuring that HIV-outreach efforts fight stigma in those communities most affected, including the LGBTQ community, women, people of color, and injection drug users?
I know breaking down the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS– especially for those living in communities most affected – will help ensure that more individuals get tested and those infected are connected with medical and social services. As governor, I will support the continued efforts of AIDS Service organizations, public health organizations, and social services to provide HIV-outreach that fights the stigma related to the infection.
Will you ensure that treatment and prevention materials are available in Spanish and French?
I will support efforts to print treatment and prevention materials in languages other than English, like Spanish and French.
Ensuring that condoms are available to people in state prisons and jails?
I recognize that our correctional facilities deal with complex public health issues. As governor, I will instruct my Secretary of the Department of Corrections to investigate these issues, including the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, and recommend commonsense policy solutions.
Will you ensure every Pennsylvanian has access to HIV treatment at the time of diagnosis, through:
Continuing to support Pennsylvania’s model Special Pharmaceutical Benefits Program, regularly updating the SPBP formulary to include cutting-edge HIV treatments as soon as they’re approved, for the lowest price possible?
Ensuring that ACA Insurers in Pennsylvania accept Ryan White funds?
Maintaining Ryan White funding in addition to expanding Medicaid?
Yes, I know Ryan White funding allows individuals living with HIV and AIDS to access important services that might not be covered by their insurer.
Ensuring continued support for Medical Case Management service, which removes barriers to care for people living with HIV/AIDS?
Yes, Medical Case Management services are an important element in ensuring eligible individuals have a comprehensive medical plan that addresses both medical and social needs and connects them with important community supports so that they can maintain their health and avoid more costly medical intervention and hospitalization.
Will you support harm reduction through:
Making naloxone (Narcan) available without a prescription, and ensuring that first responders carry naloxone and are trained in its use?
Doctors, treatment specialists, public health experts, and law enforcement officials currently cite prescription drug overdoses as an epidemic. I know that making Narcan more accessible will save lives. As governor, I will support efforts to equip first responders with Narcan and train them in how to use it.
Instructing the Department of Public Health to issue a statement that Pennsylvania’s drug paraphernalia laws do not criminalize the distribution of clean syringes for the purpose of preventing the spread of illness, and that state law enforcement and prosecutors will abide by this interpretation?
As governor, I will work with key stakeholders and representatives from the Office of General Counsel to explore how we can support the efforts of those who are working to get dirty needles off of our streets and curb the spread of diseases connected to intravenous drug use.
Exploring legal options to ensure that state public health funds can support syringe exchanges?
I support funding for these programs but I believe that they need to be part of a larger, comprehensive effort to address drug use in our communities.
Will you support a national fee on Wall Street financial transactions, specifically one that:
Places a small tax on all types of financial transactions by large institutions and earmarks revenues specifically for fighting the HIV/AIDS crisis?
I believe when we earmark revenues for a specific program, we end up playing games with those funds so that we can pay for other priorities. I know we need to fund HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment programs. As governor, I will work to ensure that Pennsylvania HIV and AIDS programs have the funding needed to provide high quality services.