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Mental Health Association In Pennsylvania; the Arc of Pennsylvania v. Tom Corbett

October 16, 2012

MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION IN PENNSYLVANIA; THE ARC OF PENNSYLVANIA; VISION FOR EQUALITY, INC.; NAMI SOUTHWESTERN PENNSYLVANIA; SPEAKING FOR OURSELVES; PENNSYLVANIA MENTAL HEALTH CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION; AND MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA, PETITIONERS
v.
TOM CORBETT, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS GOVERNOR OF THE COMMONWEALTH; OFFICE OF THE BUDGET OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA; AND DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, RESPONDENTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Anne E. Covey, Judge

ORDER

AND NOW, this 16th day of October, 2012, it is ORDERED that the above-captioned opinion filed July 30, 2012, shall be designated OPINION rather than MEMORANDUM OPINION, and it shall be reported.

IN THE COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA

Mental Health Association in : Pennsylvania; The Arc of Pennsylvania; : Vision for EQuality, Inc.; NAMI : Southwestern Pennsylvania; Speaking : for Ourselves; Pennsylvania Mental : Health Consumers Association; and : Mental Health Association of : Southeastern Pennsylvania, : Petitioners : : v. : : Tom Corbett, in his official capacity as : Governor of the Commonwealth; : Office of the Budget of the : Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; and : Department of Public Welfare of the : Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, : Respondents

No. 255 M.D. 2012

: Argued: June 4, 2012

BEFORE: HONORABLE BONNIE BRIGANCE LEADBETTER, Judge HONORABLE ANNE E. COVEY, Judge HONORABLE ROCHELLE S. FRIEDMAN, Senior Judge

OPINION BY JUDGE COVEY

FILED: July 30, 2012

The Office of the Attorney General (AG) filed preliminary objections on behalf of Tom Corbett, in his official capacity as Governor of the Commonwealth (Governor), the Office of the Budget (OOB), and the Department of Public Welfare (DPW), to the petition for review filed by the Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania, The ARC of Pennsylvania, Vision for EQuality, Inc., NAMI Southwestern Pennsylvania, Speaking for Ourselves, Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers Association, and Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania (collectively, Petitioners). The issues for this Court's review are whether the petition for review (1) states a claim upon which relief may be granted, (2) presents a non-justiciable political question, (3) violates the separation of powers doctrine, and (4) presents an action that is ripe for judicial review. The AG's preliminary objections are sustained.

Petitioners are various non-profit corporations that advocate and lobby on behalf of persons with mental health issues and intellectual disabilities (MH/ID). Under the Mental Health and Intellectual Disability Act of 1966 (MH/ID Act),*fn1 the General Assembly appropriates to DPW funds for mental health services administered by DPW's Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS), and money for intellectual disability services overseen by DPW's Office of Developmental Programs (ODP). OHMSAS and ODP allocate the funds appropriated to DPW by the General Assembly to counties, and they assure that the funds are used for their allocated purposes. Other community-based social services that DPW and the counties deem necessary (i.e., child welfare services, homeless assistance and drug and alcohol programs, etc.) are funded out of a separate Human Services Development Fund (HSDF) Block Grant Program.

Section 201 of the MH/ID Act states that the DPW has the duty, inter alia:

(1) To assure within the State the availability and equitable provision of adequate mental health and intellectual disability services for all persons who need them . . . . . . . .

(3) To consult with and assist each county in carrying out mental health and intellectual disability duties ...


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