Pa. Lottery privatization not a cure-all for senior funding needs, advocates warn
Advocates for senior programs say more money alone isn't going to solve structural problems with Pennsylvania's services for the elderly.
Ron Barth, CEO of LeadingAge PA, says if privatizing the Pennsylvania Lottery will guarantee additional funding for senior programs, that's a plus. The most in-demand programs, however, will still need more, he said Tuesday during a hearing before state lawmakers.
"It is appropriate to be thinking in terms of using those funds for all senior services," Barth said. "But the lottery fund in and of itself is not going to solve the problem. We're going to need more general fund revenues as well."
Legislators were seeking more information about senior programs supported by lottery profits and a pending contract with Camelot Global Services to take over the lottery's operations.
The British firm is promising higher profits for the lottery over a 20-year period, $34 billion altogether, if it's also able to expand gambling.
State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, is asking representatives from senior programs to identify each individual structural problem.
"So that, in addition to whatever we do in the case of the lottery and those dollars and whoever operates it, we can at least begin to address your concerns so that the dollars are being distributed properly so you can take care of those folks," Pashinski said.
Vicki Hoak, head of the Pennsylvania Homecare Association, proposed a change in the way lottery funds are distributed. That funding has not gone exclusively to senior programs, she said, but also to the state Department of Aging and, since 2006, to help the state meet its obligation for Medicaid.
"As we move into another chapter, we must also commit to ensuring that the lottery funds work in sync to optimize all the services and supports we provide to older Pennsylvanians," Hoak said.
That sentiment is shared by the Republican chairman of the state House Aging and Older Services Committee.
Rep. Tim Hennessy is planning to introduce a bill requiring lottery proceeds to be used exclusively on services for older Pennsylvanians.
House lawmakers will hear from Camelot executives Wednesday in a second hearing.