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State Supreme Court halts plan to close about half of Pa.’s health centers

July 18, 2013 News Extra

HARRISBURG — The state Supreme Court is ordering a halt to a plan by Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration to close nearly half of Pennsylvania’s 60 community health centers until it can hear a lawsuit challenging it.

One of the affected centers is in Butler, which absorbed the health center and staff from Beaver and Armstrong counties.

The high court’s order, issued Wednesday, reverses a lower court decision on the request for an injunction and asks for a speedy hearing of the case.

A state employees’ union, Department of Health nurses and several Democratic state lawmakers sued on April 1, saying the plan violates a 1996 law that requires legislative approval before closing any centers.

Department of Health officials say they can do a better job treating public health problems by making community health nurses more mobile. Agency employees warn that it’d slow the detection of communicable diseases outbreaks, particularly in rural areas.