Governor Proclaims Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day
Governor Tom Corbett has issued a proclamation making May 9 Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day in Pennsylvania. In his proclamation the governor notes that “addressing the complex mental health needs of children, youth and families today is fundamental to the future of Pennsylvania.” Governor Corbett goes on to “urge our commonwealth’s citizens to become aware of the importance of effective and coordinated services for children and youth, to learn about the impact of trauma on child health and well-being, and to unite in an effort to increase awareness about the importance of comprehensive programs for children and youth with mental health needs and their families.”
PCPA joins the governor and neighbors across Pennsylvania in celebrating Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day and commends mental health professionals and workers who strive daily to meet the complex needs of children, youth, and families.
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
In the recent primary election, voters were asked for identification (ID), but not required to produce it. Voter ID will be required in the November election. In an effort to mitigate onerous requirements for those who do not currently have suitable ID, the Secretary of the Commonwealth announced a process intended to make it easier for those who have had an expired driver’s license or non-driver license photo ID to obtain a valid ID that will authorize them to vote. Information from the PENNDOT database will be used to verify identification and the card will be issued. Individuals may contact PENNDOT at 800-932-4600 to verify that information for licenses that expired before 1990 is still in the database. An application form is required for the non-driver license photo ID. Individuals are required to sign an affirmation that they have no other acceptable form of photo ID for voting purposes to receive the non-driver license photo ID at no charge.
Photo IDs from Pennsylvania care facilities including long-term care facilities, assisted living residences, or personal care homes are valid, as long as they include the name of the facility, the name and photo of the voter, and an expiration date. Accredited Pennsylvania public or private college and university photo IDs with expiration dates can also be used. If the card does not have an expiration date, a date sticker can be used.
Starting with the November election, all photo IDs must be current and contain an expiration date, unless otherwise noted. Acceptable IDs include:
- Photo IDs issued by the US government or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania;
- Pennsylvania driver’s license or non-driver’s license photo ID (IDs are valid for voting purposes 12 months past expiration date);
- Valid US passport;
- US military ID – active duty and retired military (dependents’ ID must contain an expiration date);
- Employee photo ID issued by federal, Pennsylvania state, or a Pennsylvania county or municipal government;
- Photo ID cards from an accredited public or private Pennsylvania college or university; or
- Photo ID cards issued by a Pennsylvania care facility, including long-term care facilities, assisted living residences, or personal care homes.
If a voter does not have a photo ID at the polls in November, he or she may use a provisional ballot and will have six days to provide a photo ID to the county election office in person, by mail, e-mail, or fax. More information is available at www.VotesPA.com, or 877-VOTESPA (877-868-3772). Voter ID acts in Pennsylvania and other states are being contested. Despite efforts to make it easier to obtain IDs, voter ID requirements will disenfranchise many.
There are a wide range of opportunities in May and June to come to Harrisburg and make it clear to the administration and General Assembly that large numbers of Pennsylvanians care deeply about maintaining access to community services. Stakeholders are keenly aware that in order to avoid the devastation of Pennsylvania’s community services, it is crucially important that members take action! In addition to PCPA Capitol Day on June 5, members are encouraged to consider attending other rallies.
PCPA Capitol Day – June 5
PCPA has partnered with the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania and other concerned associations and advocacy groups in a joint effort to come together on June 5 and fight for a budget that is realistic and offers the support required by Pennsylvanians receiving behavioral health, intellectual disability, and autism services. Please watch for an announcement that PCPA’s online Capitol Day web site is open! The online Capitol Day web site will feature everything needed to register, order Capitol Day t-shirts, make appointments with legislators, and get information and talking points. The legislative press conference/rally will begin promptly at 12:00 p.m. This event features legislators and other speakers to rally the crowd and share support for community services.
PARF Legislative Rally – May 8
The Pennsylvania Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (PARF) is holding a legislative rally May 8 at 10:00 a.m. in the Main Capitol Rotunda in partnership with PCPA, The ARC of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Waiting List Campaign, and Vision for Equality to call for adequate funding for community programs for people with intellectual disabilities. The rally will call on legislators to stop proposed funding reductions for individuals with intellectual disabilities and provide crucial support for the emergency waiting list. PCPA will participate in the PARF event and urges those members unable to attend Capitol Day on June 5 to participate on May 8.
In addition to the PCPA and PARF rallies, the following rallies have been scheduled and provide an opportunity to further support the advocacy community.
- PA Brain Injury Coalition 2012 Legislative Day on May 2. The rally will take place at 10:00 a.m. in the Main Capitol Rotunda.
- “Keep Your Promise” Rally on May 2. The rally will take place at 12:00 p.m. in the Main Capitol Rotunda and is sponsored by Visions for Equality. It is focused on the ID Waiting List.
- Save PA’s Bridge to Stability & Self-Sufficiency Rally and Lobby Day on May 7.
- The rally begins at 11:00 a.m. in the Main Capitol Rotunda and is sponsored by PA Cares for All. It is focused on General Assistance budget cuts.
More information is available on the respective web sites of sponsoring organizations. Further questions may be addressed to Anne Leisure at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2101 N Front St, Bldg 3, Ste 200, Harrisburg, PA 17110
Phone: 717-364-3280 – Fax: 717-364-3287
PCPA Decries Dismantling of Behavioral Health System and Devastating Budget Cuts
For over 40 years, Pennsylvania state government has built one of the best, if not the best, systems of public behavioral health care in the country, effectively serving Pennsylvanians of all ages. State institutions have been closed or downsized, community providers have built local services, peer services have been incorporated into the available array of services, and movement to a model focused on recovery and resiliency has progressed. The proposed state budget – with massive cuts and a major public policy shift to a block grant funding model – promises to devastate the current system and poses significant risks to those most in need of commonwealth support. The Corbett administration has abdicated its long-term responsibility for and commitment to care for people with mental illness and substance use disorders. Promises made to vulnerable citizens and to communities will be broken.
The Block Grant
The Corbett budget creates significant problems for the behavioral health system. The administration is proposing a massive redistribution of funds from several budget lines into a new human services block grant, along with major reductions to these funds. The proposed block grant displays a lack of awareness of legal, historical, and operational processes and precedents. Behavioral health funds are used as the primary underpinning to support the human services block grant. Approximately 73 percent of the block grant is comprised of funds that were previously dedicated to behavioral health services.
Furthermore, the proposed block grant marks a major shift in public policy that was developed with little or no outside or stakeholder input. There appears to have been little, if any, utilization of industry experts. The process lacks the typical approaches used to develop sound public policy and the result is, therefore, flawed public policy. Funding streams for these services have been carefully thought out over the years, informed by a wide range of stakeholders, experts, and past administrations. Systemic changes have taken place through transparent public processes of deliberations, educated by the realities of consumers, families, and communities. The promise of flexibility and opportunities for better integration of programs and services has some merit, but this model is untested. Looting the commonwealth’s behavioral health system that has a proven track record of success to sustain other categorical programs is wrong and laden with great risk. The massive transfer of behavioral health funds to the Human Services Development Fund, with promise of flexible spending, will decimate the infrastructure that has developed over multiple administrations. The proposed block grant is wrong and must be opposed.
Promises Not Kept
Over a 25 year period, the commonwealth has repeatedly moved to improve the lives of individuals facing the challenges of mental illness. Promises were made that individuals could live meaningful lives in the community, rather than in isolation in an institution. With the closure of each state institution or downsizing though the Community/Hospital Integration Projects Program (CHIPP) promises were made to individuals and communities that the commonwealth would maintain these services and supports. Communities across Pennsylvania were repeatedly promised that care would be provided and individuals would not be “dumped” into the streets, the jails, or emergency rooms in community hospitals. The Olmstead Plan for Pennsylvania’s State Mental Health System details how the “Department of Public Welfare will work with counties to plan for the development of a broad array of integrated options to meet the needs of consumers.” It also acknowledges the fiscal and social costs of failing to provide the necessary supports and services that far outweigh the costs of paying for these supports and services. In spite of the well acknowledged fact that persons with mental illnesses can live successfully in their communities at a cost significantly less than services provided in institutions, the Corbett administration has reneged on these promises and shifted the burden back to local communities for care that is a state responsibility. The Corbett administration must keep the promises of prior administrations, both Republican and Democratic, to adequately serve people outside of institutions and to assure local communities they will be safe and free from the significant cost burdens of good local care.
The Funding Cuts
The Corbett budget proposes massive cuts to the behavioral health service system and the General Assistance program which provides support and services to individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders. These cuts were made without regard to severe consequences such as increased incarceration and homelessness and the elimination of life-sustaining services. These cuts were made ignoring the devastation it will bring to the critical services provided to Pennsylvania’s most needy.
The budget proposes a cut of $123.08 million for behavioral health services. That includes Community Mental Health appropriation – $110.02 million; Behavioral Health Services Initiative -$9.58 million; Act 152 Drug and Alcohol appropriation – $2.99 million; and Special Pharmaceuticals appropriation – $.49 million. The proposed block grant lacks sufficient detail for other analysis, although there have been consistent reports that counties will be freed of matching fund requirements, which would mean another potential loss of $14.1 million in county matching funds. Since counties will be free to transfer funds to needed areas, even a transfer of 5 percent of the behavioral health funds is another potential loss of $27.5 million.
PCPA is working to determine the impact of the $170.3 million cut to General Assistance-related Medical Assistance coverage. It has been estimated that as much of one third of the General Assistance program funding made treatment possible for those with mental illness and substance use disorders, a possible impact of as much as $51.09 million. The reduction of the cash component of the General Assistance program will also impact behavioral health consumers. The total potential cuts to behavioral health may approach $200 million.
It is recognized that these are difficult times for the state’s budget. However, the proposed cuts are excessive and devastating to the system. These cuts target the truly needy. They will hurt individuals who have long been the responsibility of the state, dating back to its founding. These vulnerable individuals should not be sacrificed during this time of more limited resources, but should be among the first that are protected. These cuts must be restored!
1. Contact Mental Health/Intellectual Disability county administrators, Single County Authorities, and county commissioners to explore possible avenues of joint action. Discuss and demonstrate the devastating effects on services.
2. Contact legislators in the district to communicate the impact of these devastating cuts and policy shifts.
3. Contact local media – write an op-ed or a letter to the editor. Tell your story!
4. Come to Harrisburg for PCPA’s Capitol Day on June 5.
5. Watch for additional announcements and alerts from PCPA about further actions needed.
In summary, the block grant is wrong and must be stopped; promises made to consumers and to communities must be kept; and the massive cuts must be restored.
PCPA Paper Highlights Success of Behavioral Health Managed Care
PCPA has published Continuing the Success of Pennsylvania’s Behavioral Health Managed Care Program. The primary purpose of the paper is to keep legislators, state and county officials, and other stakeholders apprised of the important and successful commonwealth program, Behavioral HealthChoices. The paper was written on behalf of members to highlight the success of the behavioral health managed care program and support continuation of this model. It has been the overwhelming experience of community providers, consumers, and many others in the field that the Behavioral HealthChoices model of specialty managed care offers a structure of accountability that assures access to quality care, implementation of evidence-based treatment, and sound fiscal control. PCPA believes strongly that the model should continue. All members are encouraged to forward the paper to local officials and other stakeholders whenever possible.