The Pennsylvania Legislature faces a daunting task in balancing our state budget for the coming year. While deliberating over their difficult decisions and trying to best represent their constituents, it is imperative that our representatives maintain funding for programs for those who need them most: people with disabilities.
While interning at the Consumer Health Coalition, I found that the organization has focused on the proposed state budget cuts that attempt to balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable. Programs for people with disabilities remain severely threatened in this difficult budget year. Among proposed cuts are decreases to mental health, mental retardation, autism, aging and substance abuse treatment services, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and attendant care and independent living supports. Still harsher, these cuts will remove some consumers from services they already are receiving, in addition to curtailing new openings in existing programs. Services for some conditions, such as epilepsy, risk even more stringent cuts. While true that some programs must experience cuts, these services are necessary to the welfare of those who receive them and for the overall welfare of the commonwealth.
In a time when we so adamantly encourage treatment for substance abuse and value living independently, cuts to these programs would be immensely shortsighted. Pennsylvanians should contact their representatives and demand that funding remain intact for programs for those with disabilities. As consumers shouted at the CHC budget rally, we are better than this!
ANGELA M. KOWALSKI