Increase working disabled funds
Pennsylvania's annual budget decision-making for 2013-14 is upon us. Unfortunately, the disability community continues to be disappointed.
Home- and community-based services have not been increased. In fact, millions of dollars have been cut from state Attendant Care Services, those that help people with disabilities remain independent.
But nursing homes received a 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment from the governor's budget and another $7.8 million increase from the state House's budget bill.
Most public opinion polls on long-term care show that over 80 percent of individuals want to live in a community setting, not a nursing home or other institution. The average monthly cost of living in a nursing home is $5,040, while the cost for people over age 60 living in the community is $1,910, according to the state.
The budget seems to be “robbing Peter to pay Paul” — decreasing home services and increasing nursing-home care.
Pennsylvania offers a program to persons with disabilities who are able to work, but require attendant care — Act 150. This program allows people to work and pay taxes. Funding for Act 150 has been stagnant in recent years due to budget constraints and ongoing threats to discontinue it. Because of that, the program's waiting list is now 316 people. So if someone has a potential job, he/she cannot accept it because attendant care services are not available to assist with bathing, dressing, etc., to prepare to go to work.
To deny employment and services is unacceptable. Act 150 needs to be expanded.
Robert P. Romero
The writer is the facilitator for Southwestern Pennsylvania ADAPT, an organization of disability rights activists.