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Mental Retardation Update #04-04
February 7, 2004

Governor’s Budget
PCPA is responding to the Governor’s 2004-05 FY budget proposal through a variety of press options to inform the administration, legislators, and the public about the impact of this budget on the drug and alcohol, mental health, and mental retardation systems. The Associated Press interviewed PCPA Executive Director George Kimes, on February 3. Kimes stated, “I think this budget is continuing the crisis in the system. On the positive side there is the fact that the drug and alcohol funds that were cut last year were restored.” PCPA issued a Legislative Alert with pertinent department budget analysis on the governor’s proposed 2004-05 FY budget on February 3. The mental retardation community system will see another level funded, no increase, no COLA (Cost of Living Allowance) this budget year except for a Waiting List Initiative. The funds for this initiative are projected to be generated through an assessment on ICFs/MR ($17 million) where the money will be matched by federal dollars, resulting in $34 million to be returned to the Department of Public Welfare (DPW). It is estimated that if Waiting List placements are made to group homes, nearly 500 individuals could be served for six months from this budget.

MH/MR Coalition
The Mental Health/Mental Retardation Coalition, of which PCPA is a member, has issued a press release regarding the 2004-05 FY Budget. The coalition feels the governor’s proposed budget places at risk the community mental health and mental retardation service system. The governor and General Assembly were called upon to appropriate additional funds to stabilize this system and to reverse years of flat or reduced funding. For the third year in a row, the MH/MR providers are facing a budget that fails to adequately address the need to stabilize the system, recruit and retain a qualified workforce, and eliminate the community waiting list.

By not including any funding for “system stabilization” or a COLA for the community system, Governor Rendell has signaled a lack of recognition of the importance of these issues to consumers, their families, and their staff. This lack of support affects the continued health and safety of consumers. It also affects the providers’ ability to continue to employ the nearly 100,000 staff working to support people with mental illness and mental retardation. These are essential services that provide for the daily lives of individuals.

President’s Budget
On Monday, February 2, President Bush proposed a $2.4 trillion budget, with an anticipated shortfall of revenue at $521 billion. Bush proposed eliminating 65 programs for a savings of $4.9 billion and cuts to 63 others. Cuts would include water projects, rural conservation, aid to state and local law enforcement agencies, Amtrak passenger railroad, and federal prisons. His proposed increases include an additional $1 billion for disabled students and poor school districts. In Pennsylvania, special education federal funding would increase by 6.6 percent to $415.6 million and there would be a 28.5 percent increase in aid for children’s health insurance.

Asset Limit Changes
In November, DPW raised the asset limit for persons in Home and Community Based Support Waivers from $2,000 to $8,000 except for persons receiving SSI. The Disability Law Project (DLP) has developed a more thorough overview of this asset limit change. For additional information contact DLP at 215-238-8070.

IM4Q
The Office of Mental Retardation’s Independent Monitoring for Quality (IM4Q) Management Committee has requested provider input regarding the use of the reporting system and use of the data available. Please share feedback, concerns, and recommendations with Linda Drummond at PCPA regarding:

  • How usable are the provider level IM4Q reports?
  • What would make them more usable?
  • What assistance is needed to use the information contained in the provider level reports?
  • Would it be beneficial to incorporate domain scores in provider reports?

Grants
Training Institute for Frontline Supervisors and Technical Assistance Project is a three-year grant designed to improve recruitment and retention across the country. The project will assist five employers of direct support professionals to put into action proven methods to find and keep high quality employees. For details on applying by February 17, contact: http://rtc.umn.edu/ntiffs or Nancy McCulloh (mccu1037@umn.edu).

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is soliciting pre-enrollment assistance for applicants to the Head Injury Program (HIP). Services include assisting in completion of HIP applications and providing information to applicant about available Traumatic Brain Injury services such as COMMCARE Waiver, Independence Waiver, etc. The grantee shall participate in the State Health Improvement Plan. For details on Bid No. RFA-02-07-25 access www.dgsapp.state.pa.us or contact Annette Jacek at 717-783-8451.

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