Lawsuit challenging cuts for poor in Pa. set to begin

    A Pennsylvania court will hear a lawsuit Tuesday that challenges state budget cuts affecting the poor and disabled.

    The lead plaintiff against the state of Pennsylvania is Billie Washington. The 52-year-old disabled woman spoke on a panel last week.

    Of about $200 a month that she received from the state, Washington said she paid $150 in rent to her grandmother.

    As for the rest, “I had to use it to buy toiletries, my laundry detergent and maybe use it to pay co-payments for my medicines,” Washington said.

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    “It’s not easy, being disabled and not able to work,” she said. “And I can’t go out there to find work again because I’m disabled.”

    The plaintiffs in the suit want the state general assistance benefits restored by injunction until the constitutionality of eliminating them can been considered.

    They allege the cuts were rushed through at the end of the budget cycle, with less than 48 hours between the release of the final legislation and its final passage.

    The legislation included changes to Medicaid eligibility, welfare rules, adoption subsidies and converted multiple benefits programs into a single block grant to counties.

    The Department of Public Welfare’s spokeswoman Anne Bale said the agency contends “the lawsuit has no merit and will vigorously defend our position.”

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