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“Rapp Declares Governor’s Budget Bailout Scheme to Close Warren State Hospital Forensics Unit Absolutely Insane”

http://www.reprapp.com/NewsItem.aspx?NewsID=9373

I received an email today, August 3, 2010 from Rep. Kathy Rapp indicating that Governor Rendell has plans to close the Forensics unit at Warren State Hospital on October 31.  The above link will take you to the page on Rep. Kathy Rapp’s website.

I will be following this closely and will post wjhat I find here.

Do I laugh or cry?!?!?!

Ok many of you know that Pennsylvania is in the process of decreasing what they give to folks for the state portion of Social Security, the amount had been $27.40, but is decreasing to $22.10 well today, February 1, 2010.

Saturday I got more mail from my County Assistance office of which I’ve kind of begun cringing at the sight of the CAO return address, not really knowing for sure if I really want to know what they are doing to me now or not.  Well, I hesitently opened the letter, and like the one that told me I was going to be losing about $5 per month starting today, this one was also 2 pages, but as I read it I wanted to both laugh and cry.  I’m still kind of shocked about it to be honest.

Well the letter basically said that because my income had changed that effective today (2-1-2010) my food stamps would be increasing.  the amount isn’t huge, but it was a $2 increase in my food stamps, so while I’m glad I got a portion of the $5 I lost back, I find myself dumbfounded, because I’m pretty sure that the 3 mailings I received from my CAO this past week (the 3rd was telling me they had received my application for LIHEAP) that the $5 that the state claimed they would save on me today, was pretty much spent just in mailings. 

Here is a scanned copy of the letter I got telling me about the decrease in my state portion of my SSI (more will follow it) …..  I received this on Saturday, January 23, 2010 ….

SocialSecurity-State-supliment-decrease

Notice they explained the decrease in a single sentence … well here is the page they included with it telling me all about my right to appeal …..

SocialSecurity-State-decrease-page2

On Saturday,  January 30, 2010, I received the following letter telling me about the increase in my foodstamps ….

1-30-2010-CAO-Notice_Foodstamp-increase

It was accompanied by a second page as well that told me about my right to appeal in fact, it was identical to the second page of the previous letter, so rather then posting it I’m going to ask you to take my word on the idea that it was identical.

Now why am I sharing these scanned copies with the world?  Simple, to point out not only that I like many others had been told I qualified for a specific amount in Social Security (I personally receive Disability and SSI), and then I basically like many  others in Pennsylvania who receive SSI get told that despite the fact I was told I qualified for a specific amount, the state is going to decrease the amount they contribute.  So, even with the $2 increase in my food stamps, I’m still being shorted $3 of what I was told I qualified for.  So basically the state is ripping me off.

I know there are those out there who would think they are all high and mighty because you work and don’t receive benefits from the government, but before you start slamming me with comments telling me I’m lazy let me point out that in order for me to qualify to receive Social Security Disability, I had to work, so yes, I have worked, and have held several jobs over the years, but because of my disability I wasn’t able to continue with those jobs for very long.  I keep trying and hope that I will find a job I am able to do well at over the long-term.  I am a volunteer at a Service Dog organization, and I do some freelance writing, in addition to this blog and other projects I try to help with as I’m able to, so I’m not just sitting back collecting money and not giving anything back to society.  So if you plan on hitting me with that line of thinking, I assure you it won’t get very far here.  Yes, you are entitled to your opinion, but you should also know that while you may be on a high horse now, looking down in disgust at folks like me, you yourself could be a single car accident or other life changing event from being in exactly the same position I am in financially.  I hope that nothing happens to anyone, but it is something to keep in mind for those who feel they are better then me because I receive benefits from the governeent and they don’t.

My point is this in my case, I earned the ability to receive these benefits, and now I’m being told my benefits will be decreased through no fault of my own, so yes, for lack of a better word, I’m pissed!  I’m also angry, because I know there are folks who want to work but have never been able to who are also losing money from their benefits.  Those of us on Social Security are living well below the poverty level, so since we are now living lower today then we were yesterday, I would like to ask if anyone knows who’s wallet is being padded with the money I was told I qualified for and have had pretty much stolen from me?

For the sake of the politicians, in Pennsylvania, I certainly hope you opt to NOT vote for a raise for yourselves this year in light of screwing so many people over here in Pennsylvania.  I know for a fact there are efforts being made by various groups challeniging this state decision, and I certainly would think that if you want these groups to promote you as someone who is friendly to folks like me when you are up for re-election, that you strongly consider keeping your overly high pay-rate where it’s at and NOT increasing it., because that would simply be like adding insult to injury in my eyes and the eyes of many others in Pennsylvania who got hit with this year’s cost of living DECREASE!

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“Warren Advocates Visit Their Legislator”

Rachel Freund wrote this for the PMHCA Observer released in June 2008.   My friend, Mary Jo, Certified Peer Specialist, and myself (Jenn, C/FST for Warren and Forest Counties employeed by Recovery Services) were the foks who attended the meeting with Rep. Kathy Rapp. I share this on here, not only for the obvious bragging rights to say that I was there, but more importantly to hopefully encourage folks to get to know who their state representatives are and what their stance is on various issues that effect not only each of us individually but also everyone collectively from the local community on up to the state and beyond that to our country.  I was surprised at how easy Rep. Kathy Rapp was to talk to, once we got started.  I was terrified at first thinking things like, ‘ok this is someone with a lot more power then I have and they probably won’t want to hear from me’  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  I found that speaking with Rep. Kathy Rapp, was no different then speaking to any other professional I might cross paths with.  So, for those who might feel intimidated by the idea of talking to your representative, don’t be, they generally want to know wat the folks who they work for have to say about the job they are doing.  Letting them know you appreciate the work they do on your behalf is always a good thing but if you truely don’t agree with something they stand for let them know that as well.  They need to hear the good, the bad and the ugly’ so to speak in regards to how folks think they are doing their job.  After all, they work for us as citizens and wouldn’t be in the position they are n if we hadn’t voted them into office.

To view the complete June 2008 issue of the PMHCA Observer, click here

Warren Advocates Visit Their Legislator

On May 27, 2008 two skilled advocates from Warren, PA, Jenn and Mary Jo,

along with PMHCA staffer, Rachel Freund, met with PA House Member,

Kathy Rapp, of the 65th District.

The goal of the visit for Jenn and Mary Jo was to begin building a relationship

with their legislator. Jenn reported, “Mary Jo and I thought the meeting with

Representative Kathy Rapp was enlightening and very productive. We feel that

folks would be happy to learn about how supportive she is of the mental

health community.”

The Warren advocates wore their black “Living on $60 is No Joke” shirts and

made a good case for Representative Rapp supporting House Bill 2253, the bill

to raise the $60 personal needs allowance. “I support these efforts”, Rep. Rapp responded.

They also discussed tough issues facing the mental health community such as the need for more housing and community supports, especially in rural counties like Warren. “My concern is for people who aren’t getting what they require because of a lack of resources,” reported Rep. Rapp. “I work for the citizens of this district and I intend to make sure we that can provide what people need.”

Here are some tips for arranging a visit with your legislator:

  1. First, find out who represents you. Call TOLL FREE to Project Vote Smart: 1-888-VOTE-SMART (1-888-868-3762) – a real live person will help you figure out who your legislator is!
  2. Do your homework. Learn about their interests, their committees and their responsibilities. You can stop by their office and ask a staffer to help you find out about them.
  3. Arrange a visit. Be sure to make arrangements in advance with their staff. Plan a meeting that will last about 30 minutes.
  4. Prepare in advance. Have just one or two points you want to discuss. If you go as a group, be clear who will say what (practice ahead of time!). Be clear about what you are asking your legislator to do.

Congratulations to our friends in Warren who are working hard at advocacy in their community!

If you would like to invite YOUR legislator for a visit, we can help! Contact Rachel at 412-621-4706 x. 22 or at rfreund@verizon.net

MHA Take Action on HB1448

I received the following by email through PMHCA, but it was sent through them by MHA.

During the week of May 5, 2008, HB 1448 will be brought to the floor of the PA House for a vote. If the current version of HB 1448 passes, the community mental health system will be the beneficiary when a state owned mental health facility is sold or leased. The bill requires the reinvestment of proceeds into one-time costs related to housing options and services that support independent living. In addition to having bi-partisan support in the General Assembly, HB 1448 is supported by the entire mental health community and the Rendell administration. The links included in the message from MHA will take you to more information, or to a site to find your state reps depending on which one you click on.

 

Unfortunately, HB 1448 is at risk. Representative Kathy Rapp plans on introducing an amendment that would impose a moratorium on the closure or population reduction of state mental health and mental retardation facilities, pending a study to determine the prevalence of serious mental illness and substance abuse in the inmate population of state correctional institutions and county jails.

 

Please contact your House representative and urge his/her vote in support of HB 1448 without amendment. Not only would this amendment disrupt the current process at Mayview State Hospital, it would also extend the moratorium to reducing the census at state hospitals across the Commonwealth, which means that many people who can thrive in the community would not be given that chance. For additional talking points on why this amendment should be defeated, click here.

Stop the ammendment of HB1448

  I have received information regarding HB1448 that if it isn’t stopped could cause chaos in regards to the closure of Mayview State Hospital.  It has been brought to my attention that Rep. Kathy Rapp is attempting to get an ammendment added to HB1448 for a moratorium on mental illness among Pennsylvania inmates.  If this ammendment is added, it will bring the closure of Mayview to a screeching halt, which will in turn leave many Consumers in limbo.

  Many studies have been done on the impact of the closure of Mayview State Hospital on the communities it serves.  There have also been studies done with regards to mental illness among inmates.  Testimony regarding the impact on communities, explainiing what measures have been taken to transition Consumers as smoothly as possible from Mayview State Hospital into the community.  In short there are safety nets in place to keep these folks from falling through the cracks of the community based mental health system.

The Coalition for the Responsible Closure of Mayview State Hospital has stated the following according to imformation I received from Carol Horowitz, Managing Attorney, Pittsburgh Disability Rights Network of PA

We oppose any moratorium that disrupts the process already in progress at Mayview State Hospital.  Such an amendment would prevent the Governor and Department of Public Welfare from securing funds to develop community alternatives in order to comply with the Commonwealth’s legal obligations to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and would leave hundreds of individuals in a nether world of transition”

I may have more detailed information, but I need to check to make sure it’s ok for me to post it here before adding more.  In the meantime, I would encourage EVERYONE, especially those in the counties directly effected by the closure of Mayview, to contact Rep. Kathy Rapp of the 65th District to let her know that you OPPOSE a moratorium of this nature, and that you want HB1448 to be passed without being ammended.

Contact information for Rep. Kathy Rapp can be found on her website at …
http://www.reprapp.com/?sectionid=98§iontree=98

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