Ciresi exploring legislation to increase benefits for Pennsylvanians with disabilities

STOWE, March 14 – Equipped with voice-activated features, plenty of maneuverability for wheelchairs, and small robots that can feed people and offer remote monitoring, a “SMART home” in West Pottsgrove Township opened its doors to state Reps. Joe Ciresi and Joe Webster, both D-Montgomery, this week for a tour of its facility.

Joined by staff members from PA Department of Human Services and service provider KenCrest, Ciresi and Webster met with advocates and services providers for the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities community to discuss how SMART homes can help more people with disabilities to live independently.

“SMART homes help people with disabilities live independently during a time when there is a critical home care worker shortage,” Ciresi said. “Unfortunately, this technology can be cost-prohibitive. For example, a device that can assist with eating independently costs approximately $8,600, and under current Pennsylvania law, there is an individual lifetime cap of $10,000 for assistive technology purchases.  That’s simply not enough money to help someone live independently.

“We need to change the current law to make assistive living technology more affordable for Pennsylvanians with disabilities so they can live on their own during a time when there is a critical home care worker shortage,” he said. “Either through legislation or changes to administrative directives, we are looking to raise the lifetime cap for assistive technology.”

Ciresi’s legislation is currently in the early drafting phase and will be introduced in the PA House in the coming months.