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Mental Retardation Update #04-09
March 23, 2004

Public Law 108-203
On March 2 President Bush signed into law the Social Security Protection Act that made a number of improvements for people with disabilities in the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Title II (Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance) programs. Provisions included improving protection of beneficiaries who need representative payees; additional methods to address beneficiary fraud; improvements to attorney fees payment system; and improvements to the Ticket to Work program.

HCSIS Update
HCSIS Release 3.2.4 goes live on April 3 with a variety of revisions and ISP changes. The release will be posted on the LMS HCSIS link at www.humanservices-r.state.pa.us/HCSISLMS on March 24. The Provider Access Job Aid has been developed to assist providers in completing the Provider Access screens, which is then verified by the HCSIS Help Desk. A copy of this 75-page document is available electronically from Lyndsey Wanich at PCPA. (Note: providers of OSP services only or individuals who provide services through ISO – do not enter your information into the Provider Access Web Site. Those using ISO must enter information into the ISP; OSP services are entered through the OSP program office).

Supports Coordination Training materials will have changes posted on LMS on March 24. Changes include:

  • New Rules to Remember section regarding key screens in HCSIS;
  • New chapter on performing critical revisions to modify services on the ISP or to complete a waiver transfer;
  • Renumbering of the Version numbers to Version 4.2.

OVR Public Meetings
The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) will hold its annual statewide public meetings from March 29-April 9 at locations throughout the Commonwealth. The meetings allow any citizen to present their views and recommendations on the revised Combined Agency State Plan and how the state’s vocational rehabilitation program can better serve the needs of people with disabilities. Written testimony will also be accepted if received by April 9 at the appropriate OVR District Office serving the area in which the individual or organization resides. A copy of the 2005 proposed plan is available at www.state.pa.us. Access PA Keyword: “Disability Services” and click on “OVR Combined Agency State Plan.” For additional information contact lforbich@state.pa.us.


Medicare Modernization
On December 8, 2003 President Bush singed into law the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act (P.L.108-173). The purpose of this legislation was to provide seniors and persons with disabilities with prescription drug benefit, choices, and better benefits under Medicare.

However, lower-income Pennsylvanians with Medicare will be impacted by the new drug benefit. While some may gain coverage they do not currently have, those who are on Medicaid are likely to experience decreased prescription drug coverage and more complicated access to medications than previously. It is currently unclear if persons who have full Medicaid will be required to enroll in Medicare Part D, which is the new prescription drug benefit. What is clear is that prescription drug coverage under Medicare Part D will be less than the current coverage under Medicaid.

The Pennsylvania Health Law Project has prepared an overview of this issue, Impact of New Medicare Law on Persons on Medicaid. Additional information is available from the Law Project’s web site at www.phlp.org or the Center for Medicare Advocacy at www.medicareadvocacy.org.

Medicaid
The US House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Health held a hearing on March 18 regarding intergovernmental transfers of Medicaid funds. Testimony included the General Accounting Office and the Inspectors General’s Office at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). Issues focused on upper payment limits, intergovernmental transfers, and disproportionate share hospitals issues. According to Jean Haggerty, Aid to Representative Mike Bilirakis, the hearings are to find the areas where Medicaid is not being used for Medicaid approved services. Subcommittee Chairman Bilirakis will hold further hearings next month to obtain the administration’s views on these issues.

Grant
Quality of Life Grants offer two types of grants to non-profit organizations. The first supports agencies that address the needs of persons living with spinal cord injuries, their families, and caregivers. Funding is awarded in 12 categories: children, arts, sports and recreation, education, advocacy, accessibility, practical service, independent living, assistive technology, therapeutic riding, employment, and counseling. The second type is health promotion awards that address paralysis caused by spinal cord injuries, disease, and birth defects. Submission deadlines are April 1 and October 1. For details contact www.christopherreeve.org/QLGrants.

Dates to Remember

  • PA Health Law Project is sponsoring Information Sessions regarding the “New Medicare RX Law and How it Will Impact Pennsylvanians.” For details contact the Health Law Project at 800-274-3258.
  • Second Annual Conference for Direct Service Professionals on April 23 at Adams Mark Hotel, Philadelphia. For details contact The Philadelphia Alliance, 4343 Kelly Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19129, 215-438-6400 or www.philalliance.org.
  • The Disability Budget Coalition is preparing for its Annual Capitol Rally being scheduled for Monday, May 10. Details will be provided as available.
  • “Keys to Success in Developmental and Learning Disabilities” May 3-7 at the Crowne Plaza Manhattan. For details contact National Institute for People with Disabilities, 212-273-6100 or www.yai.org.
  • “Focus on the Future.” PCPA’s Annual Conference October 5-8 at Seven Springs Resort. Watch the web site for details.

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