What is H.R. 187?

House Resolution 187 established a task force that charged itself
with investigating the PA Office of Mental Retardation Multi-year Plan
which is currently under consideration.  This task force is chaired by
Representative Russell Fairchild, Republican, Union/Snyder counties
(Laurelton State Center is in Union County and Selinsgrove State Center is
in Snyder County).  Thus far, in the hearings conducted across the state
the majority of individuals who have been allowed to testify are those who
promote institutional care, those who run institutions, and the union
representatives who have secured jobs in state institutions.  Among those
who support community options and choices other than institutions, the
allotted time to testify has been scarce and advocates would agree that the
hearings are biased toward providing a forum to promote state institutions
for the mentally retarded.

        In the development of the PA multi-year plan, a work group of
diverse individuals met over a long period and conducted public testimony
across the state allowing for input into the development of the plan by a
broad base of Pennsylvania residents.  In the end , the multi-year plan was
seen as  a "compromise plan".  It did not and does not call for the closure
of institutions in PA and there is a commitment that no resident would be
moved against their will or their families.  It did and does provide, for
the first time, a consumer and family driven system that would expand
individualized community living options for those on waiting lists as well
as allow for 1,500  residents of institutions to move to appropriate
community living arrangements.  In the composition of the multi-year
planning group were at a minimum four parents or family members
representing the interests of families who have a loved one in a state
institution.  These individuals signed off on the multi-year plan, their
signatures signifying agreement.  Afterwards, they went to state
legislators claiming they  had no input in the process and that the state
planned to close institutions.  These claims led way to HR 187 and the
current hearings.

What is contained in the OMR Multi-year Plan?

As an overview the plan makes eight recommendations:

1. Restructure relationships with Counties to ones which are based on
formal contracts with defined outcomes and indicators of quality, while
increasing consumer and family involvement in decision making and

2. Shift priorities to the support of services built on natural supports
and person centered planning.

3.  Create mechanisms for individual and family control of resources

4.  Pursue regulatory reform to promote self determination and family
control of resources (note: opens the way for a voucher system in which
money follows the person instead of program funded slots).

5.  Unify funding and eliminate categorical allocations to create a single
system for all Pennsylvanians with mental retardation

6.  Invest savings from reorganization and increased efficiency into
reducing the waiting list for services

7.  Provide supports for up to 1, 500 people who choose to move from state
facilities into community settings over a five year period (while
continuing operation of the state facilities beyond the end of the planning

8.  convert private ICF/MR funded facilities to the Medicaid Waiver Program


Why support the OMR multi-year plan?

Others have perhaps said it best.  What follows is a resolution of
the PA Developmental Disabilities Council.

"The DDC is a 20 person council, appointed by the Governor, representing
various perspectives concerned with the well-being of people with
developmental disabilities.  By Executive Order and the federal
Developmental Disabilities Act (PF 103-230) the council is charged to
improve the lives of people with disabilities by ensuring maximum
opportunities for integration, inclusion, independence, and productivity.

At it's meeting on June 19th, 1997, the Council voted to endorse the
OMR/PAC Multi-year Plan in its 6/97 version.  While Council's position
regarding deinstitutionalization is known from its 1991 resolution calling
for the closure of State Centers, we are currently concerned with advancing
the fundamental principles of the plan, including both the advancement of
choice and a commitment to improvement in the quality of the community
system, rather than engaging in further debate over the merits of
deinstitutionalization.   While a rancorous and polarized debate has
occurred over this issue, it is our view that such a debate, however
significant, is neither germane nor productive in discussing the multi-year
plan.  The plan, as written and approved, does not call for full
deinstitutionalization and focus on this issue unnecessarily detracts
attention from the plan, its moderate goals, and its necessary systems

In the view of the Developmental Disabilities Council the plan is an
acceptable compromise document which calls for increased opportunities for
those who live in State Centers to have a life more fully rooted in the
community, should they and their families wish such a choice.  At the same
time the plan heeds the calls of those concerned with the quality of the
community system, and devotes most of its bulk to addressing the need to
create a community system which is more accountable, more individualized,
and more consumer and family driven.  The plan does not call for the
closing of institutions, nor does it propose moving anyone from a state
center against their will.  It does not remove the perceived need for a
"safety net" capacity in the state centers, nor does it fail to address the
issues of quality and safety in community programs.  We regard the plan to
be a moderate and sensible document, supportable by all Pennsylvanians
concerned with improving the lives of our citizens with mental

What you can do?

Make your opinion known.  Below is the HR 187 Task force members.  Write to
them and to your state representatives, the governor.  There is a window of
opportunity to create real choice in the community system.  Don't let it

HR 187 Task force members:

Rep. Russ Fairchild (R) , Union and Snyder Counties, ph: 717-524-2788
Rep. Scott Hutchinson, (R) Venango county, ph: 814-677-6363
Rep. Joseph Markosek, (D) Allegheny/Westmoreland, 412-856-8284
Rep. Todd Eachus, (D) Luzerne, 717-450-7905
Rep. Frank Oliver, (D), Philadelphia, 215-684-3738
Rep. Louis Bishop, (D), Philadelphia, 215-879-6625
Rep. Leo Trich, (D) Washington, 412-228-9047
Rep. Patricia Vance, (R), Cumberland, 717-975-1985
Rep. Patrick Fleagle, (R), Franklin, 717-762-6001
Rep. Pat Browne, (R), Lehigh, 610-435-3854
Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, (R), Centre and Mifflin, 814-355-1300