Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Proposed State Cuts in Mental Health Services Spur Suit

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Proposed State Cuts in Mental Health Services Spur Suit

Article excerpt

HARRISBURG -- Advocates for people with mental illness and intellectual disabilities filed a lawsuit on Wednesday claiming Gov. Tom Corbett and executive agencies violated state law by requesting too little funding for services.

The governor has proposed combining funding for several public welfare programs, including services for mental illness and intellectual disabilities, into block grants for administration by the counties. The suit, filed in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, also charges that this blending of funds violates the same law because it does not allocate money specifically for services for mental illness and intellectual disabilities.

The advocacy groups argue the state Mental Health and Intellectual Disability Act of 1966 requires county officials to develop annual plans to make services available to people who need them and the Department of Public Welfare to make grants based on those plans. The lawsuit says the department is only exempted from paying those full amounts to the counties if lawmakers fail to appropriate enough money.

Mark Murphy, CEO of the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania, which is representing advocacy groups in the lawsuit, said the budget proposal would cut funding 20 percent for services covered under the law. He said cutting funding for community-based services, like crisis intervention for people with mental illness and employment assistance for people with intellectual disabilities, would lead to increased demand for costlier treatments. …

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