Barber Institute to Host Senate Roundtable

Posted on December 10th, 2012 at 8:35 PM

Pennsylvania’s Senate Democratic Policy Committee will hold a roundtable discussion in Erie this week on the state Department of Public Welfare’s (DPW) controversial new reimbursement rates for regional providers of services to people with intellectual disabilities.

The public is welcome to attend the discussion, which is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 13 at 10 a.m. at the Barber National Institute.

The hearing, which was initiated at the request of Senator-elect Sean Wiley, will focus on the DPW decision to reclassify Erie County as a rural county for the purposes of reimbursement rates to human service agencies.

The new formula, which bundles Erie County in with numerous rural counties across the state, resulted in a significant reduction in reimbursement rates in Erie.  The new DPW policy took effect in July.

Senator-elect Wiley said he is outraged that those who provide the very same services in other parts of the commonwealth now receive a 13 percent higher reimbursement rate than their Erie counterparts.

“During my Senate campaign, numerous people told me how concerned and outraged they were over how these new rates were set -- and how faulty and secretive DPW was in developing its formula,” Wiley said. “This week’s discussion will enable local providers and recipients to amplify their ideas and concerns to several senators representing diverse communities throughout Pennsylvania.”

Senator Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton/Lehigh/Monroe), who chairs the committee, added, “The Erie providers were largely shut out of discussions on the criteria DPW used to establish these new broader regional rates.

“My former colleague, Senator Jane Earll, had already begun working on this issue. I am pleased that Senator-elect Wiley is picking up the ball and continuing to press DPW for answers.

“While Senate Democrats support sensible streamlining and greater efficiencies, we have to get a sense of how much these cuts are hurting real people who desperately need these services,” Boscola said.

The panel will also discuss the impact of the state’s 10 percent budget cuts to county human service programs; and seek local input on DPW’s decision to replace the state’s 37 financial management service vendors with one firm, based in Massachusetts.