Guest columnist suggests state not provide services neither wanted nor needed
By Susan Rzucidlo, Guest Columnist, UnionvilleTimes.com
The Disability community is asking Gov. Tom Corbett, The Senate and the House to be fiscally responsible and not reopen or expand state run institutions.
Currently, in our state there is an Emergency Waiting List of 3,383 people with intellectual or developmental disabilities and autism. If we were to admit these 3,383 Pennsylvanians into institutions, it would cost all of us approximately $240,000 to support each newly admitted person; a total cost of $8,119,200,000 to the state each and every year.
This is money Pennsylvania just does not have to pay for ‘inpatient care’ that most families and individuals do not want.
Clearly, closing institutions and supporting people in their communities has saved the state billions of dollars. And, of equal if not greater importance, Pennsylvania is nationally recognized as having built one of the best support systems for people with disabilities over the past 40 years: a system that values the person, honors their civil rights and provides them the freedom of a self determined life as valued members of their community. Sacrificing these values for a method of care that will increase state spending makes no sense at all.
Placement in a state run Intermediate Care Facility/institution is a federal and a state entitlement that must be provided if the person or family requests it and yet it is proven that community living and working options cost the state significantly less money, create jobs, and provide for a better quality of life for individuals who have disabilities or challenges. Everyone wins and money is saved.
But the mission of the Department of Public Welfare in Pennsylvania… “to promote, improve and sustain the quality of family life; break the cycle of dependency; promote respect for employees; protect and serve Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens; and manage our resources effectively”, has been an important piece of the framework used to elevate Pennsylvania as the example of a better way to go. Families and people with disabilities have worked with the state for the past four decades to promote community living and working options. These options have proven that in a community living environment, everyone wins and money is saved. We are asking our state, through the Department of Public Welfare, to manage our fiscal and human resources wisely in supporting our most vulnerable citizens. We stand by ready and willing to meet and work out solutions that are cost effective as well as morally right.
The One Voice Coalition, Self Advocates United as 1 and SAFA (Self Advocates and Family Advocates) are asking Gov. Corbett and the legislature to invite us to the table and work out a plan so that the institutions of the 1950’s are not reinvigorated, an astronomical cost to the state, and set-back to hard won options for Pennsylvanians with disabilities. We are certain that this action was not what the legislature envisioned when they voted give the DPW Secretary nearly unlimited power to make changes within the department without oversight. Our groups are fully invested in the health and welfare of people with disabilities and the Commonwealth. We represent statewide, inclusive and cross-disability organizations that are committed to working with this administration. We can be reached through these two individuals for meetings:
Susan F. Rzucidlo, One Voice Coalition, SPEAKSusan@gmail.com (610) 659-3156
Sheila Stasko, SAFA (Self Advocates and Family Advocates (610) 767-2437
Steve Dorsey, Treasurer, Self Advocates United as 1 Stevedorsey619@gmail.com