Bill Seeking to Stop Closure of State Centers Amended, Vote Expected Today

HARRISBURG, Pa. (EYT) – A bill that could put a halt to the planned closure of Polk and White Haven State Centers moved closer to approval by the State House of Representatives on Tuesday.

According to The Standard-Speaker, an amendment to the bill was approved on Tuesday that would allow Polk and White Haven State Centers to stay open for at least five years and would only allow for a closure with the approval of a task force.

The bill previously stated that no state center shall close until all Medicaid waiver-eligible individuals in Pennsylvania are authorized to begin receiving home and community-based services furnished under a waiver granted pursuant to section 1915(c)(1) of the Social Security Act.

The amendment was proposed by PA State Representative R. Lee James (R-Venango) and House members passed the amendment in a 179-17 vote.

The House is scheduled to take a final vote on the bill today. It would then be returned to the Senate for concurrence.

Polk Center currently serves 194 residents and employs around 700 individuals making it the largest employer in Venango County.

White Haven in Luzerne County has 112 residents at its facility.

A group of staff and the families of residents also announced a federal civil rights lawsuit regarding the potential closing of Polk State Center this week, while the new board of the Venango County Commissioners passed a second resolution opposing the closing of the Polk State Center.

In August, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services said both Polk State Center and White Haven State Center would close by 2022. See story here.

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