Senator Scott Hutchinson (R-21), Senator John Yudichak (I-14), Senator Michele Brooks (R-50), and Senator Lisa Baker (R-20) announced that the Senate concurred today on House amendments made to legislation to place a moratorium on the closure of the Polk and White Haven State Centers. Senate Bill 906 now goes to Governor Wolf’s desk.
“I join with the families that would be impacted by the closure of the Polk Center in thanking my colleagues for sending this bill to the Governor,” said Senator Hutchinson. “We have done our very best to stop this wrongheaded decision to close Polk and White Haven. It is now up to Governor Wolf to decide whether the residents of these centers – our most vulnerable citizens – will continue receiving the quality care that they need and want.”
Senate Bill 906 creates the Task Force on the Closure of State Facilities to analyze and manage the closure of any state center and prevents a closure of those centers for a minimum of five years.
“Senate Bill 906 is a bipartisan, bicameral piece of legislation that will allow Pennsylvania families to choose the best level of care for their loved ones with intellectual disabilities by prohibiting the closure of White Haven Center and Polk State Center,” said Senator Yudichak. “Efforts to close White Haven State Center and Polk State Center by the Department of Human Services are essentially driven by a misguided belief that special interest groups, not families, know what is best for individuals who have called these state centers home for decades. All that we are asking for in Senate Bill 906 is that the choice and interests of every family who cares and loves an individual with intellectual disabilities be valued equally.”
“We remain firmly committed to protecting the most vulnerable of the vulnerable and giving Polk and White Haven residents and their families the voice and the choice they deserve,” said Senator Brooks, who chairs the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. “Choosing where residents live is truly a life-and- death decision for them, especially in light of the federal Inspector General Report on widespread noncompliance with laws governing abuse, injury and death in group homes. Forcing residents into a community setting that may not be appropriate for their acuity level, or into a state center located even further away from family members, would be a painful unilateral mandate that ignores their wishes and removes them from a home where they feel safe, protected and loved.”
“This is an important step toward recognizing the rights of the residents of the two institutions, their families and the workers, who deserve a more deliberative process in deciding their future. There is a larger principle at stake as well. Legislators have a role in establishing, funding and overseeing state institutions. That involvement does not suddenly terminate because a governor arbitrarily decides to pursue closure,” said Senator Baker.
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