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Guest Opinion

Open letter to Gov. Shapiro re: ID/A funding


Governor Shapiro,

It was wonderful meeting you in person April 17 at BARC Developmental Services in Warminster (“In Warminster, Shapiro rallies support for his budget’s ID/A funding,” April 25).

As a parent of a 40-year-old daughter with disabilities and mental health issues, I was heartened to hear you speak passionately about the ID/A (intellectual disabilities/autism) population and the direct support professionals who selflessly support and care for them. Thank you for dedicating funds in your 2024-25 budget proposal for mental health in schools and expanding resources for ID/A programs and the DSPs staffing these programs.

In addition to being a parent, I am a former school board member, retired provider of Occupational Therapy services, and I’m vice chair of the Bucks County Behavioral Health/Developmental Programs Advisory Board.

I’m concerned for those with dual diagnoses of ID/A and mental health. These are very complex individuals requiring comprehensive, expensive care if they are to be supported effectively in the community.

Neither ID/A MA Waivers nor HealthChoices cover all expenses associated with this care, and many of these individuals lack access to the integrated supports they require. Even with the $20M ($40M if the budget passes as proposed), Mental Health Base Funding has not and is not keeping pace with the rising costs of care.

Here in Bucks County, we are piloting ID/A programs that support individuals experiencing significant and ongoing behavioral health needs with all available funding sources, but there are significant gaps that must be addressed in both residential and crisis care. Predictable and sustainable annual funding is crucial at the county level.

We need an integrative approach to funding treatment of these individuals and supporting their families 24/7, 365 days a year. After all, necessary treatment and community supports occur outside a school or work day.

While we are certainly grateful for that additional $20M in your proposed budget, we are urging you to take another look because our costs of treatment are drastically outpacing the funding.

We trust you, governor, and look forward to working together to address the needs of a population often forgotten.

Ada Miller lives in West Rockhill.

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