Northeast Regional Cancer Institute Releases Latest Report on Cancer

The Northeast Regional Cancer Institute, a community-based nonprofit organization, is pleased to present this
report on cancer incidence and mortality in Northeastern Pennsylvania. For over 30 years, the Cancer Institute
has worked to ease the burden of cancer by focusing on the areas of community & patient services and
survivorship. The Cancer Institute invests 100% of its resources in this region.

The Cancer Surveillance Program at the Cancer Institute compiled this report using data from the
organization’s Regional Cancer Registry, the Bureau of Health Statistics and Research of the Pennsylvania
Department of Health, and the National Cancer Institute Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER)
Program. This report describes cancer incidence and mortality in Northeastern Pennsylvania relative to the
United States for the 23 most common cancer sites. For the purpose of this report, Northeastern Pennsylvania is
defined as the six counties of Lackawanna, Luzerne, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming. Data from the
SEER program were taken as representative of incidence and mortality rates for the United States as a whole.

In April 2023, the SEER Program reported effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on cancer incidence statistics for
the year 2020. Reported incidence was down in April and May but returned to pre-Covid levels by June 2020.
As a result, reported cancer incidence rates for 2020 were lower than expected based on 2019 and earlier
data. The deficit in incidence varied by cancer site, but for all sites combined was approximately 9.3%. An
examination of cancer incidence data for Northeastern Pennsylvania showed a similar drop in cancer cases
reported in April and May of 2020, resulting in a 6.3% decrease in incidence for the year as a whole. Because of
the small difference between SEER and Northeastern Pennsylvania in the covid-related drop in incidence and
the Standardized Incidence Ratios (SIRs) in this report are based on data for a five-year period (2016-2020), any
effects of Covid-19 on the calculated SIRs are expected to be quite small. Consequently, no adjustments were
made to account for the possible effects of Covid-19 on the SIRs presented here.

The Northeast Regional Cancer Institute uses these cancer surveillance data to focus the organization’s
community and patient services to have the greatest possible impact. Similarly, they hope that the information
contained in this report is helpful in support of patients at risk of or diagnosed with cancer and their
loved ones.

Treasurer Announces Report Findings

Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity, Center for Rural Pennsylvania Board Chairman Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23), Center for Rural Pennsylvania Vice Chairman Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski (D-121), and Center for Rural Pennsylvania Executive Director Dr. Kyle C. Kopko today announced the findings of a study analyzing the differences in how residents of rural counties use and benefit from the PA 529 College & Career Savings Program compared to residents of urban counties.

The analysis, performed by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at the request of the Pennsylvania Treasury Department, concluded that urban county beneficiaries of PA 529 accounts have more savings for postsecondary education than rural account beneficiaries even after taking into account various statistical factors. Treasurer Garrity said the report shows the importance of emphasizing outreach to rural counties across Pennsylvania, which she has focused on since taking office.

“Every Pennsylvanian deserves access to quality postsecondary education opportunities – whether that means a four-year university, community college, technical school or an apprenticeship,” Treasurer Garrity said. “This report shows that we’re doing the right thing by increasing our outreach to our rural counties, which are all too often forgotten in Harrisburg. As a lifelong resident of Bradford County, one of our most rural counties, I’m committed to making sure every corner of the state understands the benefits of PA 529. I’ve visited every county in Pennsylvania each of the last two years, and I always talk about the benefits of PA 529 and how saving with PA 529 can help families reach their education goals.”

Between January 2018 and March 2022, more than 60 percent of all contributions to PA 529 accounts, went to PA 529 Investment Plan (IP) accounts in the 19 counties defined as urban by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania.

“The Center for Rural Pennsylvania was pleased to partner with the Treasury Department to analyze its data and publish this new research,” said Chairman Sen. Yaw. “This report will help raise awareness among rural residents about PA 529 accounts and how these accounts may be useful to them to save for future education and workforce training needs.”

 “As a former teacher, I know how important a quality education is for a student’s long-term success,” said Vice Chairman Rep. Pashinski. “PA 529 savings accounts can make quality post-secondary education possible and affordable for more families.”

“The data presented in this report yield several important findings,” said Dr. Kyle C. Kopko, Center for Rural Pennsylvania Executive Director. “Chief among them is the finding that there is a gap in 529 plan contribution levels between rural and urban account holders – even after accounting for a range of statistical factors that may influence contributions.” 

The report, Differences in Rural and Urban PA 529 Education Savings Accounts, 2018-2022, also found a sharp increase in PA 529 contribution amounts during the third and fourth quarters of 2021. This followed action by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to offer advances on the Child Tax Credit, allowing parents making less than $400,000 filing jointly to receive part of their CTC reimbursement as monthly checks. However, the report concluded that more evidence is needed as to whether those policy changes contributed to the increase.

To better reach rural communities across the Commonwealth, Treasury expanded its outreach team in 2022 by adding a Director of Outreach and Marketing and creating three regionally located outreach positions. The outreach team attends county fairs, senior expositions, legislative programs, and other events to connect with people directly. They also connect with community organizations and educational institutions to establish stronger partnerships.

The Keystone Scholars program has helped increase new PA 529 accounts for families in rural counties. Keystone Scholars provides $100 investment to every baby born to or adopted by Pennsylvania families on or after January 1, 2019, using no taxpayer money. PA 529 account ownership has increased in nearly all rural counties since the program’s launch.

PA 529 accounts are designed to help Pennsylvania families steadily and strategically save for future educational expenses – including universities, community colleges, trade schools, apprenticeships, and K-12 education – with significant state and federal tax advantages.

Treasury offers two PA 529 plans; the PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan (GSP), which allows families to save at today’s tuition rates to meet tomorrow’s tuition costs, and the Morningstar Silver-Rated PA 529 Investment Plan (IP), which offers a variety of investment options.

Treasurer Garrity has made many changes to ease access to PA 529 accounts and bolster savings for families using the program. She eliminated the minimum deposit to open a PA 529 account and lowered the minimum contribution to $1. PA 529 IP account owners have seen a state fee reduction, while PA 529 GSP account owners had asset-based fees waived for the current fiscal year and qualifying GSP accounts received a $100 deposit last summer funded by GSP fund surplus earnings.

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is a bipartisan, bicameral legislative agency that serves as a resource for rural policy within the Pennsylvania General Assembly. It was created by Act 16 of 1987, the Rural Pennsylvania Revitalization Act. The Center works with the legislature, educators, state and federal executive branch agencies, and national, statewide, regional, and local organizations to maximize resources and strategies that can better serve Pennsylvania’s nearly 3.4 million rural residents.

For more information about PA 529 accounts, visit pa529.com.

Media Contacts:
Samantha Heckel, Press Secretary (Treasury), 717-418-0206 or sheckel@patreasury.gov

Christine Caldara Piatos, Communications Manager (Center for Rural Pennsylvania), 717-787-9555 or caldarac@rural.pa.gov

PennDOT Invites Public Review, Comment on 2021 Transportation Performance Report

Pennsylvanians can view ratings of the state’s efforts in transportation safety, mobility, system preservation, and accountability in the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) 2021 Transportation Performance Report (TPR), viewable at TalkPATransportation.com.

The TPR is a biennial report and is developed in a combined effort between the State Transportation Commission (STC), the State Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC), and PennDOT. The report is the first step in the state’s transportation program planning process and helps to evaluate the system’s performance and opportunities for progress.

“The Transportation Performance Report highlights PennDOT’s progress across major aspects of our system including safety, mobility, preservation, accountability, and funding,” PennDOT Secretary and State Transportation Commission (STC) Chair Yassmin Gramian said. “We will use this to help develop our next 12-Year program, as well as inform our Statewide Long-Range Transportation Plan and the Freight Movement Plan.

The release of the 2021 TPR also signals the start of the STC’s and PennDOT’s 2023 12-Year Program Update Public Comment Period. PennDOT conducts a statewide 45-day Public Comment Period every two years to collect public comment on multimodal transportation needs, issues, and concerns.  The public feedback collected during the Public Comment Period is used to inform the 12-Year Program and other state and regional transportation plans and programs such as Pennsylvania’s Long Range Transportation Plan and the Freight Movement Plan.

The Public Comment Period is open now through Wednesday, April 14. During this time the public will be able to submit feedback by taking a Transportation Survey, emailing comments to RA-PennDOTSTC@pa.gov, or calling 717-783-2262 from 7:30 AM – 4:00 PM to request a printed copy of the survey, or to complete the survey by telephone.

PennDOT’s Online Public Forum is set for Tuesday, March 23, from 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM. The Public Forum will be broadcast statewide via Zoom and Facebook Live and features PennDOT Transportation Secretary Yassmin Gramian.

The public will be able to submit transportation-related questions to PennDOT during the Public Forum. Questions may also be submitted in advance of the Public Forum by filling out the online registration form or by emailing RA-PennDOTSTC@pa.gov. The public may also call PennDOT and share their questions to be answered at the Public Forum at 717-783-2262 from 7:30 AM – 4:00 PM.  

Additional details on the Public Comment Period, the Transportation Survey, and the Online Public Forum are available at TalkPATransportation.com.

PennDOT will make all reasonable modifications to policies, programs, and documents to ensure that people with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency have an equal opportunity to enjoy all of its programs, services, and activities. In accordance with Governor Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts, the Public Forum will be held online only. Interested individuals who do not have internet access should contact PennDOT at 717-783-2262 to obtain the call-in number for listening-in only.

To request assistance to participate in the survey or Public Forum, please contact PennDOT’s Program Center by emailing RA-PennDOTSTC@pa.gov or calling 717-783-2262 from 7:30 AM – 4:00 PM. Requests for Public Forum assistance should be made by Monday, March 15. If you have other questions or challenges, please contact PennDOT’s Bureau of Equal Opportunity to request help by emailing penndot_eoreports@pa.gov or calling 1-800-468-4201; TTY (711).