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MR Update #04-31: State and Federal Issues, ISO, HCSIS Update, OHCR
October 26, 2004

State Legislation

  1. House Bill 1530: Loan forgiveness bill for MH/MR/D&A staff passed the Senate with an amendment to add drug and alcohol staff. The amendment requires the two branches to conference and vote on the changes before going to the governor for his signature. The bill will allow MH/MR/D&A staff working full time for a county or private provider to have up to $20,000 of their college PHEAA student loan forgiven if they continue working in the system.
  2. House Bill 2270: Family Support for Persons with Disabilities Act passed the House by a 196-0 vote on October 20. If passed in the Senate, this bill will provide for the development of pilot projects with the goal of establishing a statewide system of family support projects under the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) to assist families with services similar to those provided to persons with mental retardation.

Federal Issues

  1. On October 20 President Bush signed a proclamation recognizing October as national Disability Employment Awareness Month. Information about this proclamation is available at www.whitehouse.gov.
  2. HR5197 is the Direct Support Professionals Fairness and Security Act introduced on September 30. The bill would ensure that direct support professionals are paid wages and benefits that enable them to stay in their jobs and provide the critical services that people with disabilities need. The Medicaid Program (Title XIX of the Social Security Act) would be amended to enhance the federal medial assistance percentage for five years to states to increase wages.
  3. Social Security has increased benefit amounts.
  • For new SSA applicants the substantial gainful activity is $830 per month.
  • For Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients the benefit rate has increased to $579 and Pennsylvania gives a state supplement of $27.40. Resource limits remain at $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple.
  • SSI recipients who are working and are at risk of termination due to this resource limit should apply for Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities (MAWD) in order to maintain Medicaid eligibility. The resource limit for MAWD is $10,000.
  • In-school youth (under age 22) who receive SSI will have an annual student earned income exclusion of $5,670.

    For a copy of the press release go to: www.socialsecurity.gov/pressoffice/factsheets/colafacts2005-alt.htm.

ISO

The Office of Mental Retardation (OMR) will be offering counties the opportunity to provide additional trainings on Intermediary Service Organizations (ISO) and to open the trainings to provider agencies. The presenter will be Susan Flanagan, a nationally recognized consultant from the Westchester Consulting Group. If providers are interested, please contact your county MH/MR progam for details. A brief overview of ISO definitions is available from the Pennsylvania MH/MR Administrators Association at http://pacounties.org/mhmr/lib/mhmr/ISO_Bullets.doc.

HCSIS Update

  • HCSIS Release 4.1.0 will go live on December 4
  • Upcoming information will be provided regarding the next wave of OMR financial management and PROMISe implementation
  • 170 Philadelphia County supports coordinators and managers completed training for the remote data entry pilot and have the ability to create case comments even when not logged on to HCSIS.
  • A fiscal year ISP model is now available for counties wishing to use this alignment of the plan start and end dates with the fiscal year. This is independent of the scheduling and completion of the person centered ISP, which are done throughout the year. For details go to FY ISP Model 10-12-2004 at www.humanservices-r.state.pa.us/HCSISLMS.

Office of Health Care Reform (OHCR)

    The Governor’s Office of Health Care Reform has recently received several new grants.

    • Integrating Long-Term Supports with Affordable Housing, funded by a federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services grant, ($893,000 over three-years) seeks to increase access to affordable housing and to link systems for persons needing long-term supports.
    • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has approved the state’s "Cash and Counseling" grant to allow persons of all ages with disabilities to live in the least restrictive and most integrated setting and receive consumer-centered services. Consumers will have the alternative of managing a flexible allowance to purchase goods and services. Because consumers cannot receive money under the 1915c waivers, they will have a choice of two ISO models.
    • Aging and Disability Resource Center pilot projects will be selected in the next several months from letters of interest sent from agencies interested in coordinating these efforts. The grant will establish two pilots using the "one-stop shop" concept to direct consumers to the long-term care and supports services they need.

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