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Mental Retardation Update #04-14:
Incident Management, DD Councils, Children’s Medical Assistance

April 29, 2004

Incident Management
Office of Mental Retardation (OMR) Regional Offices will be conducting trainings throughout the state in June. Developing Incident Management Provider Quarterly and County Semi-Annual Reports sessions train providers and counties to use the Incident Management report process to develop quality management practices.

DD Council
The US Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD) announced FY 2004 allotments to state Councils on Developmental Disabilities. ADD is responsible for implementation of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000. The councils develop and implement statewide plans to address the federally mandated priority of employment, plus optionally any of three priorities (case management, child development, or community living). Pennsylvania received $3,113,657.

Medical Assistance
Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare has established a new, more generous guideline for Medical Assistance (MA) eligibility for children with disabilities who begin to receive Social Security children’s benefits (Not SSI). Under this policy children currently receiving MA will not lose their medical coverage if they receive Social Security benefits due to a parental death, disability, or retirement. Because the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) acknowledges the financial hardships incurred by families with children with disabilities, it will no longer count these funds against children who were already on MA when their parent dies, retires, or becomes disabled.

Two groups of children not included in this change are:

  1. Children not enrolled in MA when their parents were alive, working, or non-disabled, but who are seeking MA now that family circumstances have changed.
  2. Children removed from MA before this new policy took effect on January 28, 2004.

For additional information contact Eddie Lindler, Disability Law Project (215-238-8070).

Health Department
On April 26 Governor Rendell appointed Robert Torres as Deputy Secretary for the Department of Health’s Office of Administration. This office oversees contract administration, information technology, statistics and research, human services, and manages the departments $800 million budget. Torres was Director of Provider Information Management for Highmark Blue Shield.

The Blues
The four Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans in Pennsylvania have submitted to a Commonwealth Court details of their financial surpluses (see PCPA MR Update #04-12). The state Department of Insurance is trying to determine if the reserves are too large and, if so, what to do about it. The department estimated that the four Blues had a combined surplus in 2002 of $3.5 billion. The Blues were also required to outline a plan for returning any excess surplus to subscribers. Some legislators, unions, trade associations, consumer advocates, hospitals, and doctors have objected to the size of the Blues’ surpluses while they continually raise premiums. The Blues defend the surpluses claiming the large reserves are needed to keep the insurers financially strong during weak periods in the economy and to enable them to deal with potential disasters such as bioterrorism. (Source: Patriot News 4/20/04)

Overtime Rules
The US Department of Labor has issued final regulations governing overtime eligibility for white collar workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The new FairPay rules will take effect in August. Under the new rules:

  • Workers earning $23,660 or less are guaranteed overtime rights regardless of their job duties.
  • Blue collar workers (police, fire, paramedics, EMT, licensed practical nurses) are entitled to overtime.
  • Some earning between $23,660 and $100,000 will be overtime eligible.

Fact sheets and video seminars are available at www.dol.gov/fairpay.

Condolences
Sgt. Sherwood Baker of the Pennsylvania National Guard was killed in an explosion in Baghdad on April 26. The Philadelphia native graduated from Kings College and had worked for the Luzerne/Wyoming County MH/MR Office. He leaves behind a wife, Debra and a son.

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