Harrisburg, November 18, 2019 – State Senators John Yudichak (D-14), Michele Brooks (R-50), Scott Hutchinson (R-21) and Lisa Baker (R – 20) announced today that the Senate overwhelmingly passed Senate Bill 906, which establishes a moratorium on closing the Polk and White Haven State Centers.
“Senate Bill 906 is a bipartisan bill that gives the people who live at White Haven and Polk State Centers and their families a choice to remain in the place they call home,” Senator John Yudichak said. “The Department of Human Services, without advance notice or a single public hearing, is trying to take away that choice, but today’s action by the Senate represents another step forward in the fight to the save the Centers and give our most vulnerable citizens, their families, and the employees who so lovingly care for these people a voice in this fight to save White Haven and Polk State Centers.”
“This legislation reflects a fundamental respect for the safety and dignity of the frailest of the frail and promises to preserve the only home that many Polk and White Haven residents have ever known, and one that best meets their needs,” Senator Michele Brooks said. “I sincerely thank my colleagues, along with the families, residents, staff, and advocates, who worked so hard to let the voices of the residents be heard.”
“The Department of Human Services (DHS) is seemingly unmoved by the heartfelt appeals from the families of the residents who will be uprooted by the closure of Polk and White Haven State Centers,” Senator Hutchinson said. “That means the Legislature must act to protect these vulnerable individuals. Senate Bill 906 does that. I continue to believe that the best solution would be a total reversal of decision to close the Polk State Center. But at least this moratorium will provide additional time and impose important conditions that will protect the well-being of its residents.”
“Whatever the financial and philosophical motivations of state government, too little consideration has been given to the interests of families, workers, and the communities surrounding the affected institutions,” Senator Baker said. “This bill is intended to make sure Pennsylvania lives up to the legal and moral obligations to the residents of these centers, especially those for whom the centers are the only home they have really known.”
SB 906 would do the following:
- Prohibit the Department of Human Services from closing a state facility until all Medicaid waiver-eligible individuals in the Commonwealth are authorized to begin receiving home and community-based services.
- Require DHS to provide notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin when all individuals have received authorization to begin home and community-based services.
- Establish the Task Force on the Closure of State Centers upon publication of notice.
- Require the Secretary of DHS to convene an initial meeting of the task force within 60 days.
The bill will be considered in the House next.
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