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HCFA Approves HealthChoices Waiver Request
November 6, 1998

PCPA is pleased to announce that, thanks to the excellent efforts of Secretary of Public Welfare Feather O. Houstoun, and consumers, families, advocates, counties, and providers, the US Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) has approved Pennsylvania's request for expansion of the HealthChoices waiver program. This waiver covers the greater Pittsburgh area (Southwest zone) beginning January 1, 1999, and the Lehigh Valley and greater Harrisburg area (Lehigh/Capitol zone) beginning July 1, 2000.

As you recall from a recent Alert by PCPA, there was a very real concern that HCFA might not approve the waiver. This concern revolved around whether the state had to competitively bid the behavioral healthcare carve out, thus negating the sole source contracting to the counties.

The waiver was approved for a two year period effective January 1, 1999 through December 31, 2000, conditioned upon several requirements that the department does not believe will be difficult to fulfill. HCFA's letter to the Secretary indicates that the agency is reviewing federal regulations and policies on procurement of Medicaid contracts, and may issue new policies or regulations regarding open procurement.

PCPA members responded rapidly, eloquently, and effectively to the recent Alert. Your letters had an impact with both HCFA and our federal representatives. Thank you all for your hard work and support, and congratulations on your success.

For additional information, please feel free to contact Ray Webb or Lu Conser at the Association

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