The sustained funding of community-based mental health services, such as community residential programs, family-based support, outpatient care, and crisis intervention, are critical to the wellbeing of our constituents and our communities. Funding levels for county mental health services have direct impacts on whether these important community and family supports will be available. Yet for too many years, state funding for mental health services has lagged far behind its needs. Counties find themselves advocating for the prevention of funds being cut instead of achieving the increases that are needed to catch up from years of underfunding.
This week’s advocacy letter, which is being sent on behalf of the Coalition, stands as an open call to the PA General Assembly and stakeholders. Governor Shapiro’s budget address called for an initial $20 million investment as a starting point to creating a sustainable funding platform for county-based mental health services. These budgeted funds, if approved by the General Assembly, would represent the first increase in county-based mental health funding in more than a decade. Now is the time for action on sustaining the funding of community-based mental health services and creating the legislation to move on the allocation of the $100 million in funding, as outlined by the Pennsylvania Behavioral Health Commission.
The Coalition is open to all new partners. Join our mission of advocacy for this 2023–24 initiative and begin engaging with your representative. The Coalition will also be developing an advocacy toolkit for members in order to come together to sustain the safety net and serve those who need it most. The reality is that the demand for service far outweighs capacity and rate structures to serve this population.
If you have additional questions or would like to join the Mental Health Safety Net Coalition, please contact RCPA Policy Director Jim Sharp.
RCPA will be hosting our 2023 Capitol Day on Monday, April 24 and will hold a press conference and rally between 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm on the front steps of the State Capitol (outside the Main Rotunda). This is your opportunity to show a shared voice to the legislature, administration, and governor’s office on matters that impact providers and those they serve. Members from all RCPA divisions are requested to attend and schedule appointments with their Senate and House legislators to discuss the state budget, legislation, and regulations that impact the services of our members.
Detailed information will follow, but if you have questions or suggestions regarding our 2023 Capitol Day, please contact Jack Phillips, Director of Government Affairs.
RCPA has partnered with other organizations representing intellectual disability and/or autism (ID/A) providers to send a letter to Governor Josh Shapiro asking him to invest an additional $430 million for IDD services in the 2023/24 state budget proposal. Governor Shapiro needs to hear from providers, families, individuals, and advocates for the IDD system that we are in critical need of this additional funding. This investment would enable providers to improve the wages for the Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who provide care to individuals with ID/A. Improving wages will help to ensure services are available to the individuals and families who rely on these services.
Currently, thousands of Pennsylvanians with ID/A are not receiving the supports they are entitled to through Medicaid, and those individuals who are currently receiving services are in danger of losing them. The current rate system does not support the ever rising costs of providing services and paying the DSPs a wage that is reflective of their duties. Our workforce is not sufficient to meet the needs of everyone who requires care.
The additional investment into the Home and Community-Based Services rates will enable providers to give their DSPs a raise and a better starting wage to compete with other employers.
Please reach out to our Governor and ask for his support today! You can reach Governor Shapiro via this online form.