Bipartisan members of Mental Health Caucus issue call for increased funding
HARRISBURG, Dec. 17 – A bipartisan group of the Pennsylvania House Mental Health Caucus sent a letter to Governor Tom Wolf today urging him to restore funding cuts made a decade ago in order to bolster mental health service programs in Pennsylvania, according to state Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, co-chair of the Pennsylvania House Mental Health Caucus.
“A big part of addressing Pennsylvania’s suicide crisis requires these funds to be restored,” Schlossberg said. “These cuts continue to hamstring counties and mental health service providers from supporting Pennsylvanians in crisis and helping them through recover. We cannot stand by any longer and expect the same level of funding from 2009 to be sufficient in 2019.”
The 2012-2013 budget resulted in funding for health and health services being cut by ten percent, forcing counties to reallocate funding for mental health for other equally important services. This has hindered the delivery of quality community based mental health services and destabilized people’s chances for recovery. These cuts led to:
- A reduction or elimination of mental health employment, education and/or training programs;
- Reductions to community housing and residential programs;
- A reduction in funding for psychiatric rehabilitation services;
- Funding cuts or an elimination of drop-in centers, clubhouses, and warm lines; and
- An exacerbation of the health and human service workforce crisis at all levels. Providers continue to have issues recruiting/retaining health and human service professionals and critically needed front-line staff.
“We are in crisis as elderly parents are caring for special needs children who are themselves older and will be left without help when their parents pass on,” state Rep. Tom Murt, R-Montgomery, said. “By increasing funding for special needs programs, we will shrink the waiting list for services and help our most vulnerable.”
The letter urges Governor Wolf to increase mental health funding to restore the ten percent cut with a five percent increase in the 2020-2021 budget and a commitment for an additional five percent increase in the 2021-2022 budget. It notes strong support for the increases from county commissioners across the commonwealth and dire concerns of mental health service providers who are struggling to deliver care to some of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable populations.
Members signing the letter to Governor Wolf include a diverse cross-section of the House of Representatives, and includes: Co-Chairs Rep. Mike Schlossberg (132nd), Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (18th), Rep. Thomas P. Murt (152nd), Rep. DeLuca (32nd), Rep. Donna Bullock (195th) Rep. Carolyn Comitta (156), Rep. Scott Conklin (77th) Rep. Mary Jo Daley (148th) Rep. Tina M. Davis (141st) Rep. Frank Farry (142nd) Rep. Dan B. Frankel (23rd) Rep. Robert Freeman (136th) 136th Legislative District, Rep. Carol Hill-Evans (95th), Rep. Joe C. Hohenstein (177th), Rep. Kristine C. Howard (167th), Rep. Mark Longietti (7th), Rep. Brandon Markosek (25th), Rep. Joanna E. McClinton (191st), Rep. Jeanne McNeill (133rd), Rep. Kyle J. Mullins (112th), Rep. Jennifer O’Mara (165th), Rep. Adam Ravenstahl (20th), Rep. Harry A. Readshaw (36th), Rep. Ben V. Sanchez (153rd), Rep. Christina D. Sappey (158th), Rep. Peter G. Schweyer (22nd), Rep. Melissa Shusterman (157th), Rep. Justin J. Simmons (131st), Rep. Brian Sims (182nd), Rep. Wendi Thomas (178th), Rep. Joseph G. Webster, PhD (150th).