PCPA Legislative Alert: Prime Time for Visits to County Commissioners!

Prime Time for Visits to County Commissioners!
The Department of Public Welfare (DPW) and the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) have issued an update on negotiationsconcerning the proposed Human Services Development Block Grant. Key points in the document follow.

  • The block grant will combine appropriations and allocate them to counties proportionately, based on the current aggregate distributions. A phase-in period will be implemented. In the first year (2012/13) counties will be required to spend 50 percent of funding within the current categorical allocations. In the second year (2013/14) counties will be required to spend 25 percent of funding within the current categorical allocations. By 2014/15, counties will be granted full flexibility. Counties may continue funding in the current categorical line items if preferred. Counties interested in moving to full flexibility immediately may apply for a waiver to do so.
  • Counties will be able to continue to operate existing joinder arrangements and can create new joinders if desired.
  • Counties will pay the amount of match paid by the county in fiscal year 2009/10 until final fiscal year 2010/11 match information is available. DPW will make adjustments at the close of fiscal year 2012/13.
  • Counties will be allowed to retain up to three percent of fiscal year 2011/12 carryover funds for reinvestment in human services and will be able to request a waiver to retain additional funds. Counties will need to submit a reinvestment plan.
  • A new streamlined reporting document will be used that replaces current fiscal reporting associated with the categorical programs.
  • DPW will require annual plans of how counties propose to use block grant dollars.
  • Outcomes measures will be built into the block grant proposal to ensure needs are being met.  

A number of county commissioners have reviewed provisions of the block grant and expressed strong concerns related to the impact on the safety net infrastructure. PCPA appreciates the thoughtful input of these commissioners and urges members to communicate with county commissioners as soon as possibleto convey the crucial importance of maintaining an intact safety net. A Talking Points document for visits to county commissioners is available. Contact information for commissioners can be found through the CCAP web site, which contains links to each county.
If services to Pennsylvanians in need of mental health, intellectual disability, autism, or addiction care are to remain accessible and effective, funding must be preserved and Pennsylvania’s safety net must be protected. To fight the devastation of Pennsylvania’s community services, members are urged to take action to visit county commissioners NOW. Further questions may be addressed to Anne Leisure (anne@paproviders.org). 


Copyright 2012 – Pennsylvania Community Providers Association
2101 N Front St, Bldg 3, Ste 200, Harrisburg, PA 17110
Phone: 717-364-3280 – Fax: 717-364-3287


Cuts to Mental Health Services


Governor Corbett’s proposed budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year includes devastating cuts to community mental health programs.  It is imperative that you contact your “State” Representative and Senator and urge them to restore these harmful cuts.  Let them know that persons with mental illness rely on these services to help them remain in the community, and avoid institutional settings.  We also suggest that NAMI Affiliate Presidents meet with their area state legislators in their district offices (see tips for meetings).  
The Governor’s budget proposes consolidating 7 programs (including community mental health services and the Behavioral Health Services Initiative) into a single, “flexible” Human Services Block Grant for counties and then slashes funding by 20%.  In addition to the 20% cut in funding, there is no guarantee that the block grant funds will be used to provide mental health services.  Legislators must vote on the Governor’s proposed budget.  
One of DPW’s initiatives is to reduce the number of people living in institutions and when appropriate, place them in less costly, community settings.  We applaud these efforts.  However, it is critical that legislators restore funding for community mental health services, or individuals may end up back in institutional settings, including state hospitals, inpatient psychiatric facilities or state prisons.  The proposed budget cuts jeopardize the lives of those who rely on community mental health services. 
This is a very difficult budget year and it is extremely important that you contact your legislators, tell them why community mental health services are important to you and ask them to oppose the proposed cuts.
The budget issues will remain active until the budget is passed by your state Representatives and Senators (usually around June 30th).  The following actions are suggested to help have an impact on changing the Governor’s recommendations for cuts to community mental health programs.

We have provided a Sample Letter which will help you to tell your story and the impact these cuts may have on your family. Personal stories are important and are a way to help illustrate for legislators and the Governor, the importance of the services targeted for cuts. For NAMI PA Affiliates and others, we have also provided an outline for requesting a meeting in local offices of local state elected officials. These meetings, are an important part of the total strategy for helping legislators to better understand the impact of the Governor’s proposed cuts.

Please open the above link to access the NAMI PA website and the resources listed below.  If you cannot open directly through link than simply go to www.namipa.nami.org and click on the “Call to Action” at the top of the page!  Thank You!
Talking Points        Sample Letter        Steps for Legislator Meetings
List of the Types of Services Impacted by Cuts        Overview of the Proposed Budget
Find your Legislator        OMHSAS budget      Governor’s budget