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DPW Provides Strong Response to CMS Regarding HealthChoices
September 19, 2013

The Department of Public Welfare (DPW) sent a letter dated August 27 to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), responding to questions about HealthChoices. DPW expressed surprise over the issues being raised again – believing they were addressed two years ago in great depth and received approval from CMS at that time. The letter goes on to provide a strong defense for the successful model.

In a previous RCPA Info, it was outlined that in early July DPW had received a letter from CMS raising questions about HealthChoices, specifically the behavioral health agreements between the commonwealth and the counties. Deputy Secretary Dennis Marion shared the letter with the field and emphasized that…”similar questions regarding the structure of Pennsylvania’s procurement process have been raised in the past. However, Pennsylvania’s approach to behavioral health care under HealthChoices has been approved repeatedly since its inception.”

CMS concerns center on the behavioral health agreements and questions if they are “subgrants or intergovernmental agreements that are subject to cost principles set forth in OMB Circular A-87.” Essentially, the CMS concerns threaten the very nature of the right of first opportunity with the counties in HealthChoices and to the procurement process. 

The Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services issued notice in a letter dated September 18 that a future web conference will be held to inform stakeholders of the result of communications with CMS regarding the HealthChoices procurement process for behavioral health services. RCPA appreciates the strong support from DPW for the behavioral HealthChoices program and will continue to track this crucial issue and keep members informed.

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