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Mental Retardation Update #04-12
April 16, 2004

Budget Rallies
Provider voices must be heard by the governor and legislators. The system is in a financial crisis. PCPA encourages its members, staff, consumers, and families to attend at least one of the governmental affairs options listed below.

  • May 25: PCPA Lobby Day at the Capitol Rotunda. Watch for details. Save the Date!
  • May 10 at 11:00 a.m.: Disability Budget Coalition Press Conference and Rally at the Capitol Rotunda. “Independence is Priceless” is the theme of the rally focusing on numerous issues such as physical and sensory disabilities.
  • May 11 at 12:00 p.m.: MH/MR Coalition Rally at the Capitol Rotunda. “Essential Funding for Essential Services” is the theme of the rally focusing on the need for a 3% COLA for MH/MR/D&A community services.

For additional information, please contact Linda Drummond at PCPA.

OMR Budget
The Office of Mental Retardation (OMR) Budget Overview for FY 2004-05 is available. See PCPA’s Provider News April 2004 or MR Update #04-05 for an overview.

OMR Staff Changes
OMR Deputy Secretary Kevin Casey has announced the following staffing changes:

  • Ed Sadosky will supervise the newly combined Community Bureau and Facility Bureau;
  • Jackie Epstein will become Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary;
  • Other office changes include the Medical Directors Office moved to the Operations Bureau and the Computer Office moved to the Support Bureau.

Incident Management Trainings
OMR has announced the following Incident Management template trainings:

  • June 2 at The Arc of Crawford County
  • June 3 at Allegheny County Community College
  • June 9 at Hamburg Center
  • June 11 at Scranton State Office Building
  • June 22 at Bridgeport Training Center
  • June 23 at Kiva Auditorium, Temple University
  • June 28 at Cambria Community College, and
  • July 1 at Dauphin County CAO.

The three-hour trainings will focus on how to use the new Incident Management templates and integrating quality management principles. OMR will be sending registration details to counties and providers.

Certified Investigators
The new edition of the Investigations Manual is now available on the projects web site at www.omrinvestigators.com.

OVR Report
Pennsylvania’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) has released its 2003 Annual Report. Highlights include:

  • Supported Employment and Job Coaching: 1733 of 4600 individuals became gainfully employed with an average hourly wage of $7.30;
  • Transition from school to work: 28,667 youth received OVR services; 3560 entered competitive employment;
  • 10,628 OVR customers became competitively employed with an OVR investment of an average of $4886 per person;
  • Those 10,628 workers paid back an average of $6,329 annually in taxes and savings in public assistance and disability payments.

For a copy of this report contact the local/regional OVR office.

Schuylkill MH/MR
Schuylkill County Commissioners hired a local accounting firm to investigate the financial problems of the county’s MH/MR program after they learned that the program overspent it’s $18.2 million 2003 FY budget by $3.2 million. There were also investigated reports of “conflict of interest” involving county personnel and service provider contracts. Guidelines regarding conflicts of interest are spelled out in federal rules and in the Chapter 4300 Regulations.

Issues were identified as:

  • Lack of fiscal oversight at the program and county controller’s office levels;
  • Fiscal assistants used spreadsheets to track expenditures and contract totals, but didn’t realize that the total contract amount is significantly higher that the funds the county intends to spend on the program;
  • MH/MR program does not have written policies and procedures with respect to provider agency contract negotiations; and
  • Program personnel were significantly delinquent in posting expenditures by program and provider agencies.

For a copy of the newspaper article access www.schuylkill.com and search April 14 Local news.

Health Care Costs
State Representative Phyllis Mundy has asked the Commonwealth Court to open records on the size of the surpluses held by Pennsylvania’s Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans. The issue is the Blue Plans accumulating billions of dollars in surplus, despite their non-profit status, especially at a time when affordable health insurance is becoming non-existent. The Insurance Department has set a May 15 deadline for the public to comment on the Blues’ surplus applications. These applications were due April 15 and will be kept confidential until the judge rules otherwise. Representative Mundy noted that the Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans in New Jersey and Tennessee have agreed in recent months to return more than $100 million in excessive surpluses to their ratepayers.

Workshops/Seminars

  • April 21: “Transition to Adulthood: Putting It All Together” at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Contact Marcia Francis at 215-590-7230 or francism@email.chop.edu.
  • May 16-19: “Employment, Medicaid and Social Security: Collaborations at Work” at Minneapolis Hilton. For details contact Association for Persons in Supported Employment at www.apse.org or 804-278-9187.
  • June 9 at Holiday Inn Philadelphia: PA Rehabilitation Council Public Forum regarding public input on vocational rehabilitation services. For details contact PaRC at racupca@parac.org.
  • June 17: “Forum on the Power of the Disability Vote” at the Harrisburg Hilton. For details contact Joan Martin at UPC of PA at jmartin@ucpofpa.org.

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