Advocacy: The act of speaking, acting, or writing in support of a cause or idea in order to defend the rights, needs, and interests of a person or group of people who are disadvantaged by society.
Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers' Association provides and participates in individual and systems advocacy for people in Pennsylvania who have, or are recovering from, mental illness.
Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities (MAWD) program Saved
Posted July 25, 2014
Department of Public Welfare (DPW) Secretary Beverly Mackereth announced on July 24, 2014 that DPW has shelved the planned elimination of the Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities (MAWD) program. The program was scheduled to end effective January 1, 2015.
PMHCA advocated to maintain MAWD, within our comments against establishment of Healthy PA. PMHCA encourages the PA Department of Public Welfare to expand Medicaid now.
MAWD provides health coverage to over 34,000 working Pennsylvanians with disabilities who don’t qualify for other categories of Medical Assistance, usually due to their earnings. It provides an important incentive for people with disabilities to work and still keep their Medical Assistance coverage. It allows individuals with disabilities to work without fear of losing their critically important health insurance coverage, including personal assistance services and other supports they need to get and keep a job and remain in the community.
The Pennsylvania Health Law Project worked closely with numerous disability organizations and individuals on MAWD to highlight how eliminating this program would have a devastating effect. Our advocacy efforts included drafting and coordinating comments to state and federal officials by many disability organizations and the Consumer Subcommittee of the Medical Assistance Advisory Committee, assisting affected individuals in drafting their own comments, and providing information to stakeholders.
PMHCA applauds the decision by Secretary Mackereth and the Corbett Administration to continue the MAWD program. MAWD provides vital health coverage and community supports for working Pennsylvanians with disabilities.
Healthy Pennsylvania Private Coverage Option Demonstration
Governor Corbett and Secretary of Public Welfare Bev Mackereth submitted a proposal, the Healthy Pennsylvania Private Coverage Option Demonstration, to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
This option would be a substitute for full expansion of Medicaid. PMHCA opposes Healthy PA and submitted comments to CMS that explain our concerns.
PMHCA will keep you informed of whether or not this proposal is accepted by CMS
Say NO to Rep. Murphy's Efforts to Dismantle Recovery Oriented Systems
Many advances made in mental health services and supports are at great risk. Congressman Tim Murphy has introduced legislation that, if passed, would end programs and services that promote recovery and community inclusion for people across Pennsylvania and the U.S. We need your help to shut down Murphy's Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013 before it destroys 30 years of advances to mental health services and programs.
Take action today!
Call your House members and leave the message: "Please do not cosponsor Representative Murphy's the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013." Check www.house.gov for a list of Members. Call 202-224-3121 to transfer to a Member's office if you know the name and not their phone number. Leave the message with the person who answers the phone.
Talking points you can use to support this message are:
- Representative Murphy's legislation will reduce funding for the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) program by about 85% leaving individuals with mental illness no independent advocates to help address the many issues they face every day. This is Disability Rights Network in our state.
- Representative Murphy's legislation will make it easier to discriminate against people with mental illness in housing, employment, and education, and lead to fewer individuals receiving the treatment they need.
- The PAIMI program has been highly successful for 30 years in assisting people with mental illness and should continue to have the broadest authority possible to ensure people with disabilities are free from abuse and neglect and receive the services and supports they need.
In addition, PMHCA and many other consumer advocacy groups oppose the legislation because it would:
- Eliminate SAMHSA programs that have been developed by and for consumers, and which are critical supports to ensure that consumers influence transformation within the mental health and related systems in their states.
- Change privacy laws in ways that would likely lead to the erosion of protections for consumers and disruption of patient-provider relationships.
- Support assisted outpatient treatment criteria (outpatient commitment) that will unnecessarily violate the rights of people with mental health conditions to informed consent and take away their dignity, autonomy, and self-determination. Involuntary treatment should only occur as a last resort and should be limited to times when people pose a serious risk of physical harm to themselves or others. Pennsylvania and many other states already allow for outpatient commitment. This is an unnecessary intrusion into state jurisdiction.
- Prevent PAIMI from initiating and engaging in class action lawsuits, which are key tools in initiating systemic reform. Similarly, the legislation would prevent PAIMI staff from doing public policy advocacy-as a result, individuals and families will lose their voice in the legislative process and policy makers will lose an important independent resource for understanding the systemic, recovery oriented changes that protect individuals with mental illness.
The negative aspects of the bill are overwhelming, but there are some positive elements, including provisions that would reauthorize the Garret Lee Smith Memorial Act (Suicide prevention), Mental Health First Aid Act, Children's Recovery from Trauma Act, Excellence in Mental Health Act, Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act of 2013 and the Behavioral Health IT Act.
Please help the Pennsylvania members of the United States House of Representatives understand the enormity of the negative aspects of this legislation.
Membership in PMHCA
One of the benefits of membership in the Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers' Association is being included on the membership email list. All members receive emails with timely information on policy and legislative issues and action alerts, notice of trainings, conferences and Mental Health recovery employment opportunities throughout the state. Become a member today.