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MR Update #04-29: OMR Volunteers Needed; Direct Support Worker Legislation; CMS Changes; HIPAA Fact Sheets
October 1, 2004

New OMR Volunteer Opportunities
PCPA is seeking members to volunteer to serve on 10 new Office of Mental Retardation (OMR) quality management committees. This is an excellent opportunity to influence public policy and the mental retardation system's direction on quality management issues. If you are interested in volunteering to represent PCPA on any of these committees, please contact Linda Drummond. Most of the committees meet every other month, usually in the Harrisburg area and last 4-6 hours per meeting. Contact Drummond for more details and an overview of the committees:

1. Access: Evaluate accessibility to services
2. Assistive Technology: Develop strategies to increase utilization and access to this technology
3. Customer Satisfaction and Outcomes: Assess customer satisfaction and outcomes to enhance quality of people’s lives
4. Employment: Promote employment, career, and vocational outcomes
5. Mental Health Support Process: Evaluate mental health practices
6. Person Centered Service Planning & Delivery: Empower individuals by encompassing the values of Everyday Lives
7. Positive Health Practices: Improve physical and mental health services
8. Safeguards: Reduce/eliminate risks to safety, security, and rights
9. Statewide Incident Review: Utilize quality management practices and available incident management data
10. System Capacity and Capability: Ensure quality training and recruitment opportunities.

Federal Legislation
Legislation to amend Title XIX of the Social Security Act has been proposed by US Representatives Lee Terry (NE) and Lois Capps (CA). The Direct Support Professional Fairness and Security Act is a bi-partisan legislation designed to provide funds to states to enable them to increase the inadequate wages paid to targeted direct support professionals funded under Medicaid programs. While this legislation has not currently been given a bill number, the act would be an option for states to:

  • Provide financial means to increase wages and wage-related costs for specific direct support professionals to people with disabilities.
  • Eliminate the wage gap and assure at least equal wages paid to private employees as those paid to public employees in a state.
  • Receive an enhanced federal Medial Assistance percentage for five years to increase wages.

For an overview of the legislation access www.ancor.org.

NCSL
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) approved a federal lobbying agenda, which includes asking congress to extend higher federal payments to state Medicaid programs and to look closely at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) changes to Medicaid policy involving Intergovernmental Transfers (IGT). NCSL states that CMS appears to be making significant policy changes without amending the Medicaid statue, changing existing rules, or proposing new regulations. This includes CMS negotiating with individual states on IGTs, provider taxes and donations, and waivers.

CMS & Background Checks
CMS has announced a pilot program to evaluate comprehensive background check programs for new workers in long-term care facilities, including ICFs/MR. The Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 established the framework for this program and provides $25 million in total funding for three years. The program may include up to 10 states and focus on identification of efficient and effective procedures to conduct background checks. Information is available at www.cms.hhs.gov/medicaid/survey-cert/bcp.asp.

HIPAA Fact Sheets
The US Department of Health and Human Services has released two new fact sheets to provide an easy-to-understand overview of the Privacy Rules in HIPAA. Privacy and Your Health Information and Your Health Information Privacy Rights are both are available from www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa.

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