Mar. 09, 2018

HARRISBURG—Rep. Thomas Murt (Montgomery/Philadelphia) this week argued for the continued funding of a state grant for health and human service programs to aid families dealing with Tourette syndrome, the Pennsylvania Early Intervention Program, and the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

A grant for Tourette syndrome services is a line item in the state budget under the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

“The services provided by this minimal $150,000 state grant are invaluable for families; important to schools and the medical community; and beneficial to the general public,” Murt said. “Without these services, many children and families would struggle to find effective treatment and proper diagnosis.”

Murt submitted his written remarks to the House Appropriations Committee, which will offer a 2018-19 budget to the whole House.

Tourette syndrome is a complex, inherited, neurological disorder characterized by involuntary, rapid and frequent movements and vocalizations. These symptoms can range from simple eye blinking, throat clearing and facial movements to more severe symptoms such as barking, using profanity or making inappropriate sounds.

“Loss of this contract will leave these families, especially those newly diagnosed, completely on their own to understand this confusing disorder, navigate through the maze of public prejudice and misconceptions, and to fight for appropriate accommodations for their students within our public education system,” Murt wrote in his testimony. “If these services and supports are eliminated, there will be undoubtedly additional dollars spent on restrictive school placements and, at times, unnecessary residential placements of children with Tourette syndrome.”

Murt also urged the committee to continue funding for job training for those with disabilities through the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR).

“Just like everyone else, young people with disabilities want to work in regular jobs at the going rates of pay,” Murt said. “OVR provides the needed supports for individuals to gain training and to seek employment and experience to become independent contributing members to their community and our Commonwealth.”

Murt also asked for an increase in funding for the Pennsylvania Early Intervention Program, which plays a critical role helping children with disabilities from birth to 5 years old.

“These services lay the foundation for success for children as they grow and offer greater options for success with continued education and future employment,” Murt said. “Unfortunately, for over eight years the organizations that tirelessly provide these services and supports have not received a rate increase. Providers have incurred continuing rising costs associated with providing services to our children. With a 20 percent increase in insurance alone, it’s hard to imagine how they are capable of maintaining services.”

Representative Thomas P. Murt
152nd District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

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