Health Care: Shapiro Wants More Funding, Mastriano Wants Deregulation

Member Group : Center Square

(The Center Square) – State spending on health care remains high, and it’s not clear that the governor’s race will change that.

The approach to health care, though, will be different. Democratic nominee Josh Shapiro has emphasized his support for abortion and push for better health care access and coverage. In contrast, Republican nominee Doug Mastriano opposes abortion and focused his efforts on anti-lockdown policies during COVID-19 while supporting deregulation in the General Assembly.

Polling has shown Shapiro to have a significant lead over Mastriano so far. The economy and inflation has been a major focus for voters, which could benefit Republicans due to Democrats controlling the presidency and Pennsylvania governor’s seat, but health care has been a main concern as well.

“As governor, Josh will tackle the health care workforce crisis and ensure more funding is available for recruitment and retention of nurses, mental health professionals, home care aides, and other important health care workers,” his campaign site notes. “Josh will also expand telehealth services, strengthen the pipeline for health care providers in under-served areas, and fund a mental health counselor in every school. He will stop rural hospitals from closing, aggressively seek to rein in drug prices, and ensure that large pharmaceutical companies are not taking advantage of Pennsylvanians.”

Shapiro also argued he “will make health care more accessible and lower the cost of services to make health care more affordable.”

Mastriano has given fewer details on his campaign site focused on health care. He notes that “to protect the right to life, Mastriano will sign the Heartbeat bill into law, end funding to Planned Parenthood, and expand counseling for adoption services.”

As a state senator, though, Mastriano has cosponsored bills to standardize prior authorization for medical services to reduce delays, mapping drug overdoses, and has supported work requirements for Medicaid recipients. He’s also supported tuition reimbursements to encourage health workers to serve in the National Guard. Mastriano’s bill to expand telemedicine made it to the governor in April 2020, but was vetoed.

Health care is a growing priority in the commonwealth’s budget. As the state’s population gets older, Medicaid has grown to 36% of all state spending in 2022-23, as The Center Square previously reported. Controlling Medicaid costs, of fully funding Medicaid obligations, will be a major issue for the future, along with funding an emergency services system that is “in jeopardy.” 

The General Assembly may take the lead in advancing changes to state policy, but the future governor will have the authority to approve or veto what comes out of the General Assembly.

Staff Reporter

Anthony Hennen is a reporter for The Center Square. Previously, he worked for Philadelphia Weekly and the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. He is managing editor of Expatalachians, a journalism project focused on the Appalachian region.