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MR Update #04-35: COMMCARE Waiver, PROMISe Billing Bulletin, Quality Management Newsletter, Autism, and Alzheimer’s
December 2, 2004

COMMCARE Waiver
The COMMCARE waiver is a home and community based program developed for individuals with a diagnosis of traumatic brain injury (TBI). This waiver is open to Pennsylvania residents’ ages 21 and older that have a medically determinable diagnosis and are eligible for special rehabilitative facility level of care. The disability must result in substantial functional limitation in three or more of the following major life activities: mobility, behavior, communication, self-care, self-direction, independent living capacity, and cognitive capacity (judgment, memory, reasoning).

The Dpartment of Public Welfare's Office of Social Programs is looking for providers and agencies to serve individuals eligible under this waiver. For additional information contact Linda Drummond at PCPA.

Draft Bulletin
The latest draft mental retardation bulletin released for a 60-day comment period is Provider Billing Documentation Requirements When Billing HCSIS/PROMISe. The bulletin lists the fields required for providers to substantiate service provision (client name, client MA identification number, date of service, place of service, service provided, units, client signature). Send comments by January 23 2005 to Michelle Smeltzer, Office of Mental Retardation (OMR) Policy Specialist (msmeltzer@state.pa.us). For a copy of the bulletin contact Linda Drummond at PCPA.

Quality Management
OMR’s quality management newsletter, Quality is Everyone’s Business, is now available by contacting Kathy Wiser (c-kwisser@state.pa.us).

PCPA still needs volunteers to serve on a variety of OMR quality management committees; if you are interested contact Linda Drummond at PCPA.

Residential Supports
According to a June 2003 report provided by all states and overviewed by the American Association on Mental Retardation, over 402,281 persons with intellectual/developmental disabilities now receive residential supports outside their family home. This represents a 30% increase in the past 10 years. The number of persons living in settings of:

  • 16 or more have decreased nationally by 42,765 or 37%; in Pennsylvania the decrease was 3,139;
  • 7-15 residents have decreased by 2,188 or 4% nationally; in Pennsylvania that decrease is 185;
  • six or fewer residents increased by 138,248 or over 100% nationally; in Pennsylvania by 10,340.

Over 36 states reported waiting lists for residential services propelled by longevity, aging parents, increased attractiveness of an array of community services, and increased access for states to federal sharing of costs. To read the entire article visit www.aamr.org/Reading_Room/pdf/LakinDec04MR.pdf.

Alzheimer’s and Downs
Children with down syndrome who were given a drug approved for alzheimer’s disease treatment showed improved ability to communicate their thoughts and feelings, was reported by researchers at Duke University. While more rigorous testes need to be completed, it is hoped that the drug donepezil hydrochloride (Aricept) may help maximize learning for children. To read the Duke University press release access www.dukemednews.org/news/article.php?id=8184.

Direct Care Wages
A free new tool is designed to help state policymakers estimate the real costs and benefits of increasing wages for direct care professionals who serve Medicaid recipients. By clicking on the state from the drop-down menu on the web page, the state’s federal Medicaid matching rate and current direct care worker’s hourly wage is shown. as well as blanks for filling in factors for calculation. To try the new tool access www.directcareclearinghouse.org/roi/index.html.

Autism Theory
The National Institute of Health has issued a news release regarding research at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University supporting a theory that autism results from a failure of the various parts of the brain to work together. The theory accounts for observations than while many people with autism excel at tasks involving details, they have difficulty with more complex information. If confirmed, this theory suggests that therapies emphasizing problem solving skills and other tasks that activate multiple brain areas at the same time might benefit these individuals. To read the entire article accesswww.nichd.nih.gov/new/releases/final_autism.cfm.

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