Written by The New Pittsburgh Courier
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by Leah Samuel | PublicSource |
When Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane ruled that Gov. Tom Corbett’s contract for private management of the state lottery was illegal, proponents of privatization shot back that Kane’s decision meant a loss of an additional $50 million for senior services.
Advocates said that having a private company running the lottery would increase receipts and eliminate growing waiting lists for senior services, which, by law, are supported by a percentage of lottery funds.
“We will use this new money to address the need and demand for our programs,” Corbett said in a January press release announcing a contract with Camelot Global Services PA. “Specifically, I propose to use it for home and community-based services so that older adults may continue to live in their homes.”
“Additional increases in revenue would help decrease the waiting list of 5,400 older adults who are waiting for home support and personal care services to keep them in their homes,” the statement continued.
But the waiting lists are growing because the state itself has been funneling existing lottery funds away from the senior programs it has pledged to support. The funding shift, which began long before attempts to privatize, is something Corbett left out of his public comments about the topic.
Lottery ticket sales have increased by five percent over the past five years, according to the Pennsylvania Lottery. But funding has decreased overall for county agencies that are supposed to receive lottery proceeds, resulting in complaints about long waiting lists for some services.
“We do have a waiting list for our lottery-funded care management program,” said Mary Phan-Gruber, deputy administrator for Allegheny County’s Area Agency on Aging. “We have 200 to 300 people on the waiting list for that program.”
County-based agencies provide direct services to the elderly, such as meal deliveries, health assessments, programs at senior centers and abuse investigations.
The state’s Lottery Fund receives all lottery sales revenue, and most of it pays for administration, salaries, payouts to winners and other costs. But Pennsylvania law requires that at least 27 percent of lottery revenues pay for services for seniors in the state. These funds then go to state and county agencies on aging to pay for programs that will help keep them in their homes.
Receipts from the lottery have gone up in recent years, while county agencies on aging received steadily smaller amounts from lottery funds.