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MR Update #04-16: HCSIS Update, Budget & Rally, Waiting List Lawsuit
May 17, 2004

HCSIS Update #14
The Office of Mental Retardation (OMR) has issued updated information regarding the HCSIS Project. Information provided highlights OMR, the Office of Social Programs, and the Office of Medical Assistance Programs (OMAP). OMR updates include:

  • ISP changes to support Financial Management
  • Enhancements to IM Target Report
  • ISO Administration Rates
  • Provisional Contracts converted to Real Contracts on July 1
  • OMAP web site resource for PROMISe Pilot counties and providers

A copy of the update is available from the link.


MH/MR/DA Coalition Rally
The Mental Health/Mental Retardation Coalition held a rally at the Capitol on May 11 with over 400 providers, staff, consumers, families, advocates, and counties in attendance. Speakers addressed the need for a 3% COLA in the FY 2004-05 state budget, finding a long-term solution to the funding crisis, and elimination of the mental retardation community services emergency waiting list. Voicing their support for these initiatives were Representatives John Yudichak, Doug Reichley, Matt Good, and Senators Joe Scarnati and Jay Costa. Speaking on behalf of PCPA and families served by member agencies was Lori McMaster from Pittsburgh.

McMaster addressed the importance of the services provided to her 9-year-old son, Ethan. Ethan is one of triplets and has autism. He receives his services from Pressley Ridge. Without the funding to provide these supports, Ethan may have to be served in an institutional setting rather than living at home and participating in his community.

State Budget
On May 12, the state House passed the General Appropriations Bill for FY 2004-05 after attaching over 180 spending amendments to the legislation. Representative Jerry Nailor added a 3% COLA amendment for MH/MR/D&A services and Representative Kerry Benninghoff offered a 4% COLA for MH/MR which was adopted also. Now the bill goes to the Senate where it will be changed, debated, and sent into a House/Senate Conference Committee to be developed into final form for negotiations with the Rendell Administration.

Schuylkill County MH/MR
The Schuylkill County Commissioners have selected Service Access and Management Inc. (SAM) as the temporary financial and administrative management agency for the county’s Mental Health/Mental Retardation Program. SAM originated in Berks County where it has handled intake, case management, and emergency services for the MH/MR Program since 1997. The commissioners have also appointed MH/MR Deputy Administrator Deborah Reilly as acting MH/MR Administrator.

Schuylkill’s MH/MR program came under review when an audit performed by the Department of Public Welfare’s (DPW) Bureau of Financial Operations found this program had spent $3.2 million more that its $18.2 million budget in 2002. Beginning in January 2004, the commissioners have approved cuts of more than $2 million to MH/MR service providers. The commissioners intend to outsource most of the MH/MR operations through a proposal process. DPW is paying for the temporary services of SAM.

For additional information refer to PCPA’s May 2004 Provider News and Mental Retardation Update #04-12.

Sabree v. Richman
The federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals has decided on Sabree v. Richman. This class-action lawsuit was filed by the PA Disabilities Law Project (DLP) in May 2002 to challenge the waiting list for community residential mental retardation services. The lawsuit alleged that DPW violates the federal Medical Assistance law by failing to provide community residential programs for people already living in the community, often with caregivers who are unable to meet their needs due to age, infirmity, or other responsibilities. The lower court granted DPW’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. DLP appealed the ruling. Therefore, the Third Circuit Court has reversed the lower courts decision and said the Supreme Court “set the bar high for plaintiffs” in the Gonzaga U. v. Doe decision, conferring the plaintiffs right to enforce provisions of the Medicaid Act. For a copy of the court decision access www.ca3.uscourts.gov.

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