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MR Update #05-04: Budget Briefing Scheduled, Harrisburg State Hospital, IRS Changes to ISO, Autism Update, Resources
February 18, 2005

OMR Budget Briefing
The Office of Mental Retardation’s (OMR) budget briefing is scheduled February 28 beginning at 10:00 a.m. at PaTTAN in Harrisburg. PCPA will share additional mental retardation budget information as it becomes available.

Harrisburg State Hospital
The closure of Harrisburg State Hospital, which includes 39 patients dually diagnosed with mental illness and mental retardation, continues to be addressed by the legislature. At a February 15 Senate Health and Welfare Committee meeting, Department of Public Welfare (DPW) Secretary Richman was questioned regarding the ability of the community-based mental health system — with its waiting lists — to be prepared to serve the consumers within a year. Senator Piccola was concerned that serving individuals moving from the hospital to the community while 130 currently are on waiting lists could result in a lawsuit. Richman indicated that the state expects to develop several types of housing, including small residences for the dually diagnosed, housing for older patients needing home health support, supported living for those who will eventually move into their own homes, residences for the medically needy, and those with both mental illness and addictions. (Source: Harrisburg Patriot News, 02/16/05)

Autism

  • The Autism Treatment Network has been developed by six medical institutions, physicians, and parent associations to provide an information database network. The network will create treatment guidelines that will be available to those providing services and supports to individuals with autism. For additional information contact Joel Schwartz at the University of Washington (joels@u.washington.edu) or access www.autismtreatmentnetwork.org.
  • Asthma or allergies in an expectant mother may boost by up to 50 percent the chances her child will show symptoms of autism, according to a new study by Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research. The study is the first reported in medical literature and must be confirmed by further research.

Certified Investigators
OMR has scheduled three new re-certification classes for certified investigators on March 18, March 23, and June 16. For information access www.omrinvestigators.com.

Fiscal/Employer Agents
The Internal Revenue Services (IRS) has announced that it will no longer accept applications for separate Federal Employer Identification Numbers (FEINs) for Vendor Fiscal/Employer Agents operating under Section 3504 of the IRS code and IRS Revenue Procedure 70-6 governing home-care service providers.
The recent change will have an impact on states providing fiscal intermediary services to individuals with developmental disabilities who hire in-home support service workers directly. State and local government entities will have several options available to them to implement Fiscal/Employer Agent ISO services:

  • The state or county may become a government fiscal/employer agent to perform the payroll function itself or contract with a subagent or reporting agent (IRS Procedures 80-4, 2003-70). Under either method the government fiscal/employer agent is not considered the common law employer of support service workers hired directly by service recipients.
  • The state or county may choose to contract with vendor fiscal/employer agents that currently have separate FEINs. Using this option will allow states the ability to implement ISO services in compliance with Medicaid "freedom of choice" requirements.
  • For additional information access www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-03-70.pdf.

MA Restructuring
The Kaiser Family Foundation has released a brief analysis regarding how the possible restructuring of Medicaid financing could affect states, providers, and beneficiaries. To obtain a copy access www.kff.org/medicaid/7236.cfm.

VR
The web site www.StateData.info now has vocational rehabilitation (VR) data available regarding the number of people who found jobs through the VR system, the hours they worked, the number using supported employment, and average cost per case, etc. Charts are available comparing states, national trends, and outcomes by disability, age, gender, and educational status. Access the data at www.StateData.info.

Conferences
April 22.Third Annual Conference for Direct Service Professionals. Hilton City Line, Philadelphia. For additional information access www.philalliance.org.

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