TIME-SENSITIVE - ACTION REQUESTED
Dear Friends in the Pennsylvania Autism Community:
Rep. Nick Kotik has offered an amendment to Senate Bill 850 that includes some very profound cuts to the DPW budget for services for persons with disabilities. The amendment is No. A03273. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Kotik amendment today, Monday, August 3, 2009.
The Kotik amendment has good points and very concerning points. While it would fully fund the two adult autism programs that we have all fought so hard to create and to preserve, it would cut nearly a quarter of the budget for behavioral-health services, which would likely have a profound effect on serves for children with autism. As we all know, autism affects people throughout their lives, and our systems must take account of their needs as children and as adults. A budget that funds adult services but seriously underfunds children’s services is like stealing from Peter to pay Paul. It is unacceptable. We have included more details about the amendment after this message.
On balance, we believe the community must oppose the amendment. The cuts to behavioral-health services are too troubling to be acceptable. The cuts to the budgets for programs related to other disabilities are likewise u nacceptable. First, many of our loved ones have other disabilities in addition to autism. Second, we as a community must support all of those with disabilities.
Please call or write your legislators in both houses, tell them that you are part of the autism community and urge them to vote “NO” on any motion for suspension of the rules to amend Senate Bill 850. Please tell them in particular that the Kotik amendment would restore funding to services for adults with autism, a positive step in the budget negotiations, but that it would dramatically harm behavioral-health services, which are critical for children with autism. If you need contact information for your legislators, please go to http://www.legis.state.pa.us/ and use the search box in the upper right corner of the screen. The vote is scheduled for early this afternoon, so please call or write now.
Our community must act toge ther, it must rely on the most reliable sources and it must urge every members of the General Assembly to vote “NO” on suspension of the rules to allow the Kotik amendment to Senate Bill 850. The budget process has been long and difficult, but the autism community has rallied together and had a real effect. Let’s keep our interests front and center and the negotiating table.
Please act immediately.
Your Colleagues in the Pennsylvania Autism Community
More on the Kotik amendment:
Eliminates pay for performance incentive payments to managed care organizations that met their 2008/09 quality goals set by DPW as part of last year’s rate negotiations.
Funds Governor Rendell’s request for expanded autism services for 500 additional adults under the new autism waiver and ACAP programs.
Cuts behavioral-health services by $13 million or 24 per cent. The estimate is that this would affect 19,500 who currently receive services.
Includes no funding to expand attendant care. In addition, it eliminates about $5 million (or 8 per cent) in funding from the existing attendant care program, which currently serves about 2,100 individuals who need assistance in performing daily tasks of living.
Includes no funding to expand community services for 80420additional individuals with severe disabilities, including 109 persons with traumatic brain injury.
Only funds 1,073 of the 2,000 community slots that the governor proposed for seniors so that they can avoid costly restrictive care in a nursing home.
Continues to underfund CHIP.
Leaves county child welfare is still $10 million short.
Leaves supplemental grants for the aged, blind and disabled $23 million short.