Did you know Spotlight PA is a nonprofit? Learn more about our nonpartisan journalism »
Skip to main content
Main content

Dems to fight GOP probe seeking every voter’s info

Plus, the numbers behind a Pa. dementia care crisis pitting limited resources against soaring needs.

A weekly newsletter by Spotlight PA

September 16, 2021 | spotlightpa.org

Subpoena showdown, bad business, emergency waivers, recovery mission, crisis math, no excuses, no go, shock waves, low power, and faulty loans.

Republicans leading a contested review of Pennsylvania's 2020 presidential election have approved a subpoena for personal information on every registered voter in the state, prompting Democrats to vow legal action to stop not only the subpoena but the entire Trump-backed probe.

Danielle Ohl reports the subpoena — approved in a party-line Senate committee vote Wednesday — seeks the name, address, driver's license and partial social security numbers of every voter registered as of last November.

It also seeks communications between elections officials, poll worker training materials, and more.

Republicans said the voter information will be handed over to a private company paid with taxpayer money and then used to verify voter identities.

Also this week, Angela Couloumbis reports Pennsylvania's auditor general says the Wolf administration's controversial COVID-19 business waiver program was flawed, uneven, and put public health at greater risk.

Auditor General Timothy DeFoor released the findings of an audit of the program he says "revealed a flawed process that provided inconsistent answers to business owners and caused confusion.”

And finally, Ohl reports regulatory waivers put in place to help hospitals and health-care workers fight COVID-19 expire this month and could exacerbate an ongoing staffing crisis amid a summer surge in cases.

And while GOP leadership in the House and Senate have said lawmakers will consider whether some of the waivers should be made permanent when they return from summer recess, some health-care professionals worry even a temporary gap could affect care for the most vulnerable.

Colin Deppen, Spotlight PA

Huge issues are being debated in Harrisburg, from voting changes to redistricting, that could have ramifications on our state for years to come. Now more than ever, we need unflinching investigative journalism in Pennsylvania.

And Spotlight PA is answering the call in a bold new way.

We built Spotlight PA on the premise that you, our loyal readers, will step up and contribute to journalism that holds the powerful to account and gets results. Put another way, without your support, we cease to exist.

If you value our vital investigative journalism, make a contribution of any amount and become a member now. 

"Election security is not a game and should not be treated with such carelessness."

Gov. Tom Wolf after Republicans in a state Senate committee approved a sweeping subpoena meant to feed a contested election review
COVID-19 UPDATES: Two GOP lawmakers want to change state law to allow anyone who loses or quits a job over a vaccine mandate to collect unemployment; the Wolf administration will release pandemic data by legislative district; and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) wants more transparency in nursing home vaccine reports.

» COVID-19 UPDATE: Keep up with our coronavirus tracker, or find where to get the COVID-19 vaccine

» Watch: A free panel on how Pennsylvania can keep people in addiction recovery safe

Pa.'s looming dementia care crisis, by the numbers

Pennsylvania is headed for a profound eldercare crisis, experts warn, as Alzheimer's disease and dementia rates continue to climb, the state's readiness plan continues to falter, and the exorbitant costs of care pressure state budgets and family budgets alike.

Spotlight PA and PublicSource looked at the remarkably high stakes in Pennsylvania, home to one of the nation's oldest populations, and found a slew of statistics demonstrating both the urgency of the problem, the glacial pace of the response, and the dollar amounts behind a "public health crisis with a looming financial crisis on top."

Here are the figures that stand out:

 —Colin Deppen, Spotlight PA

» Delayed action

Seven: The number of years since a state-commissioned plan outlined action items to prepare for and respond to Pennsylvania's growing dementia crisis

Eight: The number of action items (out of nine chosen) still unfinished or not yet started

» Outnumbered

1,500: The number of board-certified geriatric psychiatrists nationwide 

6 million: The number of Alzheimer's patients nationwide

13 million: The projected number of Alzheimer's patients nationwide by 2050

» Care crunch

320,000: The projected number of Alzheimer's cases in Pennsylvania by 2025 

61,760: The number of those cases that are likely to be severe, based on NIH-funded research, and more likely to require full-time, dementia-specific services at an eldercare facility

17,157: The current capacity for full-time, dementia-specific services inside Pennsylvania's state-licensed eldercare facilities 

» Need gaps

21,290: The increase in the number of Pennsylvania Medicaid and Medicare recipients with Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia disorder seen between 2015 and 2020

$50: The amount Pennsylvania's Medicaid reimbursement — a primary payer of dementia care services in nursing homes — falls short per resident, per day, according to the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, which represents for-profit facilities 

» Limited support

4,564: The number of people who received reimbursements from Pennsylvania’s Caregiver Support Program in 2020

500,000: The estimated number of unpaid family caregivers statewide 

» Sticker shock

$58,692: The average annual cost of memory care for an individual in Pennsylvania

$34,352: Average annual income per individual in Pennsylvania, according to the U.S. Census Bureau

» Hidden costs

$3.7 billion: The amount spent annually through Pennsylvania's Medicaid program for Alzheimer's care, according to the Alzheimer's Association

$10 billion: The value of unpaid care provided annually by Pennsylvanians to a loved one with Alzheimer's disease or dementia, which advocates say demonstrates a far greater need for state-supported services
DOCTOR'S NOTES: Physicians offering "blanket" school mask exemptions, regardless of medical need, "have been and will be referred to the appropriate licensing boards for possible disciplinary action," Pennsylvania officials tell the AP. In Lebanon County, a doctor is accused of offering "free-to-download, signed, no-questions-asked" exemption forms.

NO NOD: Gov. Tom Wolf says he's withdrawing his nomination of Veronica Degraffenreid to head the Pennsylvania Department of State, which oversees the commonwealth's elections, because confirmation hearings would give Republican lawmakers a venue to further attack the integrity of the 2020 election, City & State reports. 

SHOCK WAVES: The fatal police shooting of Ricardo Muñoz in Lancaster touched off protests, a lawsuit, and changes in how city police respond to emergency calls involving someone with a mental illness. LancasterOnline looked at the local shock waves one year later and the national push to reimagine similar acts of crisis response

TIGHT REINS: GOP legislators in most U.S. states are curbing powers state and local officials use to protect the public against infectious diseases, the AP reports. In Pennsylvania, Capital-Star says Republican lawmakers are turning to constitutional amendments and an "arcane" committee to stop the Wolf administration's COVID-19 orders.

LOPSIDED LOANS: A new report says of nearly $12 billion in home loans made by banks in Pittsburgh between 2007 and 2019, just 3.5% of those dollars went to Black residents, who make up more than 20% of the city's population. The report's author told WESA the findings are essential to addressing the city's shortage of affordable housing.

» AP: Ex-federal prosecutor under Trump joins Pa. GOP's governor race

» COURIER TIMES: Biden approves disaster declaration for parts of Pa.

» INQUIRER: Lawyers say county traps people with mental illness in jail

» PHILLY VOICE: Pa. Turnpike missed $104M in collections last year

» POST-GAZETTE: Pitt hires law firm to review its fetal tissue research
Send your answers to riddler@spotlightpa.org. Love the riddler? Chip in and become a member of Spotlight PA so we can keep the good times rolling.

LIE DETECTORS (Case No. 110)Three doctors all say Jacob is their brother. Jacob says he has no brothers. Who is lying?

Feeling smart? Challenge a friend.
Last week's answer: 47 cards. (Find last week's clue here.)
Congrats to Eileen B. who will receive Spotlight PA swag. Others who answered correctly: Michael H., Kevin H., Dan H., Ryan S., George S., Joe S., Dennis F., Ken S., Lynda G., Michelle T., Joe M., Timothy O., Maureen G., John H., Eugene L., Jeffrey F., Joel S., Fred O., William H., Bruce B., Annette I., Lou R., Judy A., Jon N., Beth T., James D., and Elizabeth W.
Like The Investigator? Share it with a friend.

Love The Investigator? Chip in to support local journalism.

Forwarded this newsletter? Subscribe here.

Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and WITF Public Media.

Copyright © Spotlight PA / The Philadelphia Inquirer, All rights reserved.

Spotlight PA
225 Market St., Suite 502A
Harrisburg, PA 17101

You're receiving this email because you signed up for updates about Spotlight PA's journalism. 
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.