On March 29 the PA House of Representatives Human Services Committee held a special informational meeting at which members of families of individuals with intellectual disabilities to discuss the Governor’s proposed cuts in funding for human services. Numerous advocates for people with intellectual disabilities testified that the proposed spending cuts will result in fewer services, longer waiting lists, and a lower quality of life for their families. Prior to the opening of the informational meeting Representative Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks), chairman of the House Human Services Committee, and Representative Thomas Murt (R-Montgomery/Philadelphia) joined the Self Advocates and Family Alliance (SAFA) and eighteen (18) families at a press conference scheduled to raise awareness of the impacts of proposed state budget cuts. Representative Gene DiGirolamo said that he believes there is sufficient opposition from Republicans and Democrats to block the Governor’s proposed twenty percent (20%) cut to county human services and the consolidation of several programs into a proposed Human Services Development Fund block grant to be administered by the Department of Public Welfare. Both events were streamed live at www.GeneDiGirolamo.com. To see remarks by Representative DiGirolamo see http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=3685505261273. FMI: See http://www.pahousegop.com/NewsItem.aspx?NewsID=13995. For more information on testimony offered at the informational meeting, see http://www.witf.org/statehousesoundbites/house-panel-chair-vows-to-fight-cuts-to-dpw.
The Pennsylvania Behavioral Health (BH ) and Intellectual Disability and Autism (ID/A) Coalitions are urging their members to view and sign a petition calling on the PA Legislature to stop budget cuts proposed by Governor Tom Corbett and to restore funding for Pennsylvania’s behavioral health, intellectual disability, and autism services. The petition is available at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/654/600/747/protect-pennsylvanias-safety-net/. Governor Corbett’s proposed budget eliminates state funding ($842 million) designated for seven county human service programs, including community mental health and developmental program services, and establishes a block grant for human services that would reduce the current outlay to the counties by $168 million. The Coalitions are informing legislators that they must do all that is possible to stop the proposed cuts. FMI: Contact PARF at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Works for Me-PA Program in partnership with the Networks for Training and Development, Inc is presenting a free training session entitled “How Do I Connect with Employers.” Rob Hoffman will explore job development from a business perspective! Participants will learn key strategies that include speaking the language of the business community, approaching employers from an employer development perspective rather than a human services perspective, and building rewarding business relationships with employers to create win-win opportunities. This training opportunity will be offered in Doylestown on May 7, in Northumberland on May 9, and Pittsburgh on May 10. All sessions are to be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The training series is sponsored with support from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Medicaid Infrastructure Grant (CFDA #93.768). FMI: See the Networks’ website at http://www.networksfortraining.org for more information and to register or Contact the Networks’ Registrar: Email: email@example.com Phone: 610.935.6624. Fax: 610.935.6497. Toll-Free: 866.683.3651. FMI: Contact Julie Sozio, MHS (firstname.lastname@example.org), Networks for Training and Development, Inc. Training Coordinator, Phone 267.884.4244
On March 28 the Pennsylvania Senate voted 29-19 to approve a measure to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to exempt the state’s citizens from the individual mandate provision of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Senate Bill 10 would amend the state Constitution to prohibit Pennsylvanians from being required to obtain health insurance coverage or from being penalized for not doing so. In accord with the procedures for amending the state constitution SB 10 needs to be adopted by the PA General Assembly in two consecutive legislative sessions and then be approved by majority vote in a statewide referendum. FMI: See www.legis.state.pa.us and enter SB10. See also www.pasenategop.com.
On March 27 The Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved legislation by a vote of 195-1 to amend the Medical Practice Act of 1985 provisions on physician assistants and to expand the role of physician assistants. House Bill 1832 (HB 1832) is now in the state Senate. HB1832 amends the Medical Practice Act of 1985 by authorizing physician assistants to order athletic trainer referrals, as well as sign and approve physicals for daycare staff, foster care staff, and municipal and state police officers. HB 1833 makes the same changes to the Osteopathic Medical Practice Act of 1978, allowing more referrals from physician assistants. See www.legis.state.pa.us and enter HB 1832.
On March 26 the U.S. Supreme Court began hearing arguments on the constitutionality of provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). In three days of questioning through March 28 the justices asked about key provisions of the ACA: the mandate that everyone must have insurance, and the expansion of Medicaid. The Court is faced with various options, ranging from upholding the entire law to overturning it completely. A decision on the cases concerning the ACA is expected to be announced near the end of the current term in the last week of June. On March 30 Supreme Court justices were to meet and it was expected that at the meeting the chief justice would lay out the case and inform the others how he will vote, and that each justice would in turn by seniority offer their own view of the case. FMI: For a review of the Court’s questions and the hearings see www.kff.org and http://healthreform.kff.org/. See also http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0312/74456_Page2.html#ixzz1qhEEG3Aj and http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/29/us-usa-court-roberts-idUSBRE82S1EE20120329.