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Union sues Corbett administration to stop closing of 26 Pa. health centers

By - Last modified: April 1, 2013 at 3:59 PM

Service Employees International Union Healthcare Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit against the Corbett administration today seeking to halt its plan to close 26 public state health centers and eliminate 73 Department of Health positions, including 26 community health nurses.

Joining the SEIU in the suit were state Sens. Tim Solobay (D-46) and John Wozniak (D-35) and state representatives Michael Hanna (D-76), Ted Herhai (D-58) and Pam Snyder (D-50).

The suite alleges that the plan violates the following:

• The mandates of Act 87, which requires the DOH to "operate those public State health centers and provide at a minimum those public health services in effect as of July 1, 1995."

• The Pennsylvania Constitution, which bars the governor and executive branch from suspending laws enacted by the legislature.

• Act 9A of 2012, in which the legislature set funding for the operation of the 60 health centers and for the district nurse positions as provided in the current 2012-13 state budget.

Corbett's proposal to reduce funding for the operation of state health centers and staffing in his 2013-14 budget has not been approved by the General Assembly.

SEIU said in a news release that the plan as originally announced in February was slated to occur in two phases, with March 29 as the deadline for seven centers to close and the 73 employees to be eliminated. The other 19 centers, out of a total of 60, were to close by May 31.

The union attributes delays in those plans to "increasing public and legislative pressure," according to the news release. "The lawsuit seeks to have the court issue a preliminary injunction order pending a trial and a permanent injunction against the plan thereafter."

Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer covers Lancaster County, nonprofits, education and health care. Have a tip or question for her? Email her at heathers@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @StaufferCPBJ.

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