PCPA Info: Voter ID Required

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.

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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
www.paproviders.org

 

No News is Not Good News

No News is Not Good News

In the case of the budget cuts proposed by Governor Corbett, no news is not good news. Despite an overwhelming public outcry and strong opposition from the public, mental health advocates, media, and legislators, Governor Corbett and his administration remain committed to enacting their drastic and devastating cuts to the community behavioral health system – the most significant since the system’s inception more than 50 years ago.

We need to continue making our opposition heard with legislators so that the budget introduced by the Governor is not passed. Below are some ways you can take immediate action.

Stay Informed

In addition to sending critical advocacy alerts, MHAPA posts daily updates and calls to action on our Facebook page and websitePlease follow us on Facebook to stay informed of budget–related events and activities across the state.

Contact Your Legislators

Contact your state representative and senator and let them know you oppose the Governor’s proposed cuts to the community behavioral health system.

The message is simple:
STOP the 20% cuts. STOP the Block Grant. STOP cuts to General Assistance.

Find your legislators here. Contact them by:
Sending A Postcard

Use a pre-printed postcard to share these simple messages with your PA House Representative and Senator and the Chairs of the Pennsylvania House and Senate Appropriations Committees. To order the free postcards, contact Sue Walther, MHAPA’s Executive Director, at717-346-0549, extension 1, or swalther@mhapa.org.  Please be sure to provide your mailing address and the number of postcards you would like. See the postcard here.

Writing a letter

Read samples letters written and sent by advocates at Community Advocates of Montgomery County. Use these samples as a guide to help you tell your own story.  Click here for talking points. Click here for the sample letters from Community Advocates.

Making a Phone Call

After sending your letter and/or postcard, call your legislators’ offices. Ask if they received your letter and what their positions are on the mental health cuts. Let MHAPA know what you learn by contacting Sue Walther at 717-346-0549, extension 1, or swalther@mhapa.org. Tell us who you spoke to and what their positions are. Click here to see a full summary of actions taken by one group of Community Advocates. If you have a like summary that you want to share, email it to Sue Walther.

Attend an Event

Advocacy organizations across the state are hosting events to bring together people against the cuts. Please gather your friends and family and attend at least one of these events. Two upcoming events are:
Monday, May 7Save PA’s Bridge to Stability & Self-Sufficiency Rally and Lobby Day in Harrisburg with PA Cares for All

Thursday, June 5Capitol Day with The Pennsylvania Community Providers Association, The Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania, The Mental Health Association of Westmoreland County, and NAMI Southwestern Pennsylvania

MHAPA updates its Facebook followers of budget related events across the area. Like us on Facebook and learn about these events—we also post them to the Budget page of our website.

Tell the Media

Send a copy of your legislator letter to your local newspaper—it makes an impact. Kathie Mitchell, Director of Community Advocates of Montgomery County, sent a letter to The Mercury in Pottstown.  The paper published it and Community Advocates received three phone calls as a result of the published letter.  

Let Us Know What You’ve Done

Let us know what action you’ve taken so we help to ensure that your voice is being heard. Contact Sue Walther at 717-346-0549, extension 1, or swalther@mhapa.org. Click here to see a full summary of actions taken by Community Advocates. If you have a similar summary to share, email it to Sue Walther.


Take A Stand Against Budget Cuts!

Write, Email, Phone – Time to Get in Touch with Legislators!
It is crucial that the work being done in Harrisburg be accompanied by grass roots legislative work in the districts! Legislators are very interested in hearing from constituents, including providers, consumers, and families. It is important that they continue to be reminded by every means possible of the importance of maintaining access to behavioral health, intellectual disability, and autism services. While the most effective means of outreach continues to be inviting legislators to tour agencies or visiting them accompanied by families or consumers, in the all out budget assault that providers are currently experiencing, other methods of outreach need to be employed as well. 
 
Legislators’ email addresses, mail addresses, and phone numbers can be found on www.legis.state.pa.us. PCPA has developed sample language that can be used in letters or emails and budget talking points to assist in delivering the message. However, this suggested language is only part of what should be included – most important is information about how your agency serves those in the community, especially success stories if possible. The following materials may help agencies reach out to legislators through letters, phone calls, and emails. 
 

These cuts target the truly needy and will hurt individuals who should not be sacrificed during this time of limited resources, but should be among the first protected. 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 avoid the devastation of Pennsylvania’s community services, it is crucially important that members take action NOW! 
 

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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

www.paproviders.org

PCPA Behavioral Health Budget Position: Behavioral Health Budget Cuts

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!

Action Steps:
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 Legislative Alert: Visit Legislators and Advocate for Community Services!

Governor Corbett will present his proposed 2012/13 state budget on February 7 and it is anticipated that the Department of Public Welfare budget may be cut. The budget will not be finalized until much later, usually by the end of June. There is significant opportunity to impact the final budget numbers by strong and effective advocacy in the districts. In the current economic climate it is more crucial than ever that community providers reach out to local legislators to educate them regarding the importance of maintaining the community safety net for constituents in need of mental health, intellectual disability, or substance use disorder services.

It is imperative that members contact legislators in their district offices to urge them to support funding mental health, intellectual disability, and substance use disorder services at a level that enables community agencies to continue to provide quality services. Visits are most effective if framed by:

  • educating legislators about your agency and the important role it plays in his or her district as both an employer and as a resource for constituents in need of services;
  • advocating for the key role of community services as a more effective and less costly modality for the provision of mental health, intellectual disability, and substance use disorder services; and
  • most importantly, how possible budget cuts impact your agency and, consequently, their constituents.

For supporting material, please review the talking points document referred to below.

Important information to highlight concerning your role as an employer includes the following.

  • The number of consumers/persons your organization serves annually.
  • The number of individuals employed by your organization. Remember that you are an employer – besides salaries, consider other rising costs (for example, increasing health care costs) at your organization. Be specific.
  • Remember that you are a business and purchaser of services – think about the amount spent on utilities (including vehicles, gasoline, phones, computers, furniture, food, postage, supplies, training, etc.). Make it clear to your legislator that your organization is vital to your community’s economy.

When contacting legislators the following materials should be shared:

It is important to note that PCPA members agree with the necessity of a balanced state budget, but not on the backs of individuals served. 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 avoid the implementation of cuts to community services, it is crucially important that members take action.

Questions and comments may be directed to George Kimes (george@paproviders.org) or Anne Leisure (anne@paproviders.org).

 

Voices of Hope

In 1955, a new organization, founded in Lackawanna County, provided a voice for persons with mental illness. Since its humble beginnings, that organization, now known as The Advocacy Alliance, has expanded to serve persons with mental illness and persons with mental retardation in fifteen counties through Northeastern and Eastern Pennsylvania.

Take a few minutes to view “Voices of Hope”, an inspirational story that parallels changes in the way mental health and mental retardation services were delivered through the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s and the hope that accompanies the dawn of the 21st century.

The journey begins in the mid-1950s when persons with mental illness expected to be socially isolated and stigmatized, and continues to the 21st Century when due to the efforts of many, including The Advocacy Alliance, persons with mental illness and persons with mental retardation are living in communities participating in life decisions, and exercising their right to be heard.

WBRE’s Forensic Mental Health “Newsmaker” Program


WBRE (Channel 28) produced “NEWSMAKER” PROGRAM
TO AIR PANEL DISCUSSION ON

forensic mental health

Schedule:
Sunday, February 5 at 5:30 a.m. on WBRE TV

Saturday, February 11 at 6 a.m. on WYOU TV

Sunday, February 12 at 5:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. on WBRE TV

 

The Honorable Judge William Amesbury, Luzerne County First Assistant District Attorney Samuel Sanguedolce, and Kelly Petherick, Mental Health Crisis Unit Supervisor, Community Counseling Services, recently participated in a panel discussion, in concert with WBRE TV’s Newsmaker Program, to discuss Forensic Mental Health Services in our area. Some of the questions that were covered include:

  • What types of crimes are committed by people with mental illness?
  • What has been done in Luzerne County over the past few years to address the legal issues for people suffering mental illness?
  • What are the alternatives to pursuing legal action against people with mental illness?
  • What are other counties doing to address these issues?
  • What is the purpose of the free March 21st Forensic MH training (targeted to Police, Fire, EMT, 911 and first responder personnel in Luzerne and Wyoming Counties)

We invite you to watch this local program on these important questions. Any questions, please call the Luzerne-Wyoming Counties MH/MR Program at (570) 825-9441.

See also the brochure regarding police training: Police Training 2012

 

HCQU Breast Health Program

Breast Health Program

Approximately six months ago, the Eastern PA Health Care Quality Unit (HCQU) received a request from The ReDCo Group to assist them in writing a desensitization program for a woman who had not been successful in obtaining a mammogram. The HCQU discussed the request and decided that this may be an opportunity to collaborate with our community hospital and their breast health department in finding ways to promote screening in women who have a developmental disability.

The HCQU scheduled a meeting with the breast health department. The HCQU provided the breast health staff with a DVD that addressed the importance of sensitivity, good communication, and knowledge regarding adaptive positioning techniques that may be helpful in providing care to women with a developmental disability. The supervisor of the breast health department felt that sponsoring a few social type events might be helpful in increasing the comfort level of the women in need of a mammogram. The HCQU decided to consider this a pilot program and proceeded with four women from The ReDCo Group.

The objective of the first reception was getting the women who needed mammograms into the breast health area of the hospital and introducing them to radiology technicians, the breast health nurse, and a receptionist that would work with them. During the second visit the women and their supports professionals took a tour of the breast health area, looked at the mammography machine, and got some additional information regarding breast cancer from the breast health nurse. Refreshments were served at both social events.

A breast health handout was developed. The HCQU presented a training to The ReDCo Group supports professionals and women before each of the hospital meetings and the breast health handout was given to them. Then the supports professionals were asked to review the information in the handout with women twice a week before the day of the mammogram. There was effort and consideration by The ReDCo Group regarding which supports professionals would be working with the women. The objective was to have the supports professionals which the women were most comfortable with review the breast health information and take the women to the breast health social events.

At this point, the HCQU is getting ready to move into the next phase of this program. The hospital has offered to do the mammograms at a time when there are no other distractions and to schedule the women as a group. The technicians that do the mammograms will be those that the women and support professionals have met. The hospital staff gave the HCQU the paperwork that needs to be completed and it has been passed on to the provider staff, with the objective of having the paperwork completed before the visit to minimize waiting time. Before this last visit the HCQU will show a video to the four women and the supports professionals.

The HCQU is encouraging the supports professionals to celebrate the mammogram being done by going out to dinner, or doing something else that is special for the women.

Changes to Medical Assistance Prescription Coverage

Changes are being made to the Medical Assistance/ ACCESS program regarding prescription coverage. The links below contain valuable and helpful information if you or a loved one are affected by these changes.

 

Medical Assistance Bulletin from the PA Department of Public Welfare

Medical Assistance Prescription Coverage Limit Fact sheet