Sen. Brooks’ Committee Approves Bill to Hit Pause Button on Proposed Closure of Polk and White Haven State Centers

Harrisburg, October 22, 2019 – Sen. Michele Brooks, who chairs the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, joined Senators Scott Hutchinson, Lisa Baker and John Yudichak in announcing that the Committee has approved Senate Bill 906, legislation all four senators sponsored to place a moratorium on closing the Polk and White Haven State Centers.

“The residents of Polk and White Haven are the most vulnerable of the vulnerable,” Brooks said. “We need to be their voice, and we need to get this right.”

“While some residents may choose to live in the community, and can do so successfully, one size does not fit all,” she added. “This process has already caused so much unnecessary disruption and heartache.”

“The residents and families deserve full transparency, a well thought-out plan, and the active input of residents, families, staff, and other affected individuals. Before we close the doors on two facilities that have been the only home many residents have ever known, we must consider the wishes of the families, the complex needs of the residents, and the capacity of every community to meet those needs.”

Sen. Brooks also joined in a joint statement that said: “Today’s action represents another step forward in protecting the people who live at White Haven and Polk State Centers, their families and the employees at the Centers from this unilateral decision made by the Department of Human Services (DHS). We also want to ensure that any future closures being considered by DHS are made in an open and transparent manner that includes participation by the family members of our most vulnerable citizens.”

SB 906 would do the following:
• Prohibit DHS 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.

Companion legislation, House Bill 1918, was approved by the House Health Committee today as well.

Contact: Diane McNaughton (717) 787-1322
dmmcnaughton@pasen.gov