Families of Disabled People Support Fair Districts

My name is Catherine K. Koffs. I live in Upper Merion Township, Montgomery County, PA. I am in the 149th House district and the 17th Senate district. My husband Steve and I have lived and raised our children in this township since 1985. My husband and I are the 64 year old parents of a 33 year old daughter who experiences autism, is nonverbal, incontinent, and has severe intellectual and behavioral disabilities. She requires 24/7/365 care and support. She currently is enrolled in a Medicaid Home and Community Based Waiver program, which provides some care, but not enough. Medicaid waivers pay for most of the care that disabled people require, and it is vital for their survival. My daughter lives at home with us, and we provide 95 % of her care and supervision needs. We are getting older, and as we ask our county administrators for better funding, we are told there is not enough money to go around to meet every disabled person’s needs. We have tried to put her into a residential program for her care, yet we are essentially told that only when we are significantly debilitated or dead, will she receive an adequate Medicaid waiver to allow her to live in the community with the significant supports that she requires. Our daughter has been on an “emergency” waiting list for six years to get the funding she needs to live a dignified and productive life in the community. When funds become available to fund a single person, those funds are allocated based on which disabled person has the most debilitated parents, instead of the needs of the client. This is unacceptable, and there are many families in our situation. Partisan gerrymandering of our state has produced a legislature whose majority members are hostile to human services programs. Legislative maps have been drawn to keep incumbents in office, unaccountable to their constituents. We have seen this most vividly with the infamous former 7th Congressional district (where we reside), which was declared the most gerrymandered district in the US. (Goofy kicking Donald Duck was how the shape of the district was described.) Our Congressman at the time, later resigned when it was revealed that he used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment complaint by a former staffer. Incumbents who have picked their voters by way of gerrymandering feel entitled and unaccountable, since they perceive their jobs as safe. We need to do better than this. State House and State Senate district boundaries should be drawn in a way to promote competitive districts. In our last election, many candidates ran unopposed in their primaries. This is not good for democracy. I ask the LRC to please consider maps that will produce competitive districts. Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

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