POTTSTOWN, Pa., Aug. 17, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, PA Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Ted Dallas, Rep. Madeleine Dean and Rep. Mary Jo Daley visited the Mental Health Association of Southeastern PA (MHASP) in Pottstown. They were joined by members of provider organizations and advocates and called for the General Assembly to provide adequate funding for human service programs in the 2015-16 budget. Governor Wolf's proposed 2015-16 budget restored funding for county human services agencies, increased funding for programs that help aging Pennsylvanians while also increasing choices for their care and supports, and provided additional funding for programs that help individuals with disabilities.
"The current budget impasse is compromising the ability of our human services providers statewide to help our state's most vulnerable," said Secretary Dallas. "Yet, these agencies know that accepting a budget that further limits their capacity is a bad choice for their organizations and clients. We need continued, good faith efforts on both sides to reach a final agreement that provides the necessary funding for vital human services programming that is essential to the lives of so many Pennsylvanians."
The budget passed by the General Assembly, presented to Governor Wolf on June 30, shifts $172 million worth of payments to counties for services for abused and neglected children into the next fiscal year, which creates further budgeting issues for counties and exacerbates the structural deficit. It also underfunds health care services to Pennsylvania's most at risk citizens delivered through managed care organizations. Further, it maintains $27.9 million in cuts to county programs from the previous administration, reducing services and increasing pressure on local taxpayers.
"While the budget impasse goes on, the most vulnerable among us wait nervously to see what will happen," said Josh Shapiro, chair of the Montgomery County Commissioners. "As elected officials, our main responsibility is to keep the residents of our counties and our Commonwealth safe and healthy. Montgomery County, has been able to make the payments to our agencies, because of our solid reserve fund balance, but the longer this impasse goes on, the more problematic that responsibility becomes. There must be compromise, and it must come sooner rather than later."
Secretary Dallas, Commissioners Val Arkoosh and Shapiro, Rep. Dean and Rep. Daley visited MHASP, a national leader in transforming mental health services to become more responsive to the priorities of individuals with mental health challenges and their family members. MHASP is a nonprofit corporation that creates opportunities for individuals and family members to effectively respond to the challenges of mental health conditions through advocacy, direct support to individuals, training and education, information and referral, and technical assistance.
"The most critical mental health programs throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania are in jeopardy of being shut down because of the lack of funding. Our programs provide services to the homeless and vulnerable citizens with disabilities. Their health, safety, and wellbeing will be greatly affected if the budget is not passed in the immediate future," said Michael Brody, MHASP President and CEO. "Today we say to the leadership in Harrisburg, we are here, we are doing our jobs, and we are asking you to do yours. Please remember your constituents who need these services and pass a budget that fully funds human services now!
MEDIA CONTACT: Kait Gillis, 717-425-7606
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Human Services