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MR Update #05-06: Mentors Project, Aging and Disability Resource Grants, 6210 Regulation Changes, Federal Budget and Legislation, and Trainings
March 31, 2005

State Issues

  • The Department of Public Welfare (DPW) plans to implement new regulations this fall for the state’s 1700 personal care homes. In February the Independent Regulatory Review Commission approved the regulations, which include improved fire safety, better qualified and trained staff, updated living conditions, and strict oversight of medications.
  • The Office of Mental Retardation (OMR) has funded a new project, Mentors for Self Determination, providing consistent, coordinated, person and family driven training, mentoring, and technical assistance for people with disabilities and their families. For additional information contact Program Coordinator Janet Brouse at jbrouse@mentors4sd.org.
  • Temple University’s Initiative on Assistive Technology has developed a survey for individuals/families and service providers assisting persons using this technology. The survey’s purpose is to determine the needs of individuals. Access the survey at http://disabilities.temple.edu/programs/assistive/ATSurvey05.
  • The Office of Health Care Reform has selected two agencies to implement the demonstration projects for the Aging and Disability Resource Center grants. They are Allegheny County Department of Human Services and Cumberland County Office of Aging. PCPA will participate on the statewide work group for this project.
  • The OMR Regulations Workgroups have been stopped at this time. DPW will reconvene one regulation chapter at a time as needed. Upon completion of the ICFs/MR development policy work will commence on Chapter 6600.
  • OMR is making a change to Chapter 6210: Participation Requirements for the Intermediate Care Facilities for the Mentally Retarded Program. The proposed change will be specific to 6210.71 to eliminate the current 75 days per calendar year for therapeutic leave limit. The proposed elimination of the day limit will ensure individual’s transitioning from an ICFs/MR or ICF/ORC have sufficient time to build relationships and develop an appropriate support system. Any comments on this proposed change should be made by April 25 to Rebecca Jacobs at rejacobs@state.pa.us.

Federal Issues

  • The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued its FY 2005 Notice of Funding Availability specific to Section 811 Supportive Housing Program for People with Disabilities which can be accessed at www.hud.gov/offices/adm/grants/nofa05/grpsec811.cfm.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has hired Dan Schreiner as its first Medicare ombudsman, a role created by the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. He will focus on appeals, complaints, grievances and requests for assistance.
  • Representatives Terry (R-NE) and Capps (D-CA) have introduced the Direct Support Professional Fairness and Security Act of 2005 (HR 1264) which would create an optional grant program in Medicaid to allow states to be reimbursed at a higher federal matching rate for five years when the state implements a plan to bring community based support workers’ wages up to the level of government-run facility-based workers’ wages.
  • US District Court for Colorado in Mandy R. et al. v. Owens et al., a class action waiting list lawsuit, ruled that the state could not be mandated to provide or actively develop ICFs/MR services. The judge reasoned that such an order would have the effect of his ordering an increase in state taxes or appropriations and would encroach upon the fundamental powers of state government. The ruling said the court cannot order the state to provide any particular level of ICFs/MR services or to continue them in its state plan.
  • The US House and Senate passed different FY 2006 budget resolutions. The House resolution contains $69 billion in cuts to entitlement program, including $20 billion in Medicaid cuts over five years. The Senate resolution includes $17 billion in cuts to entitlement programs. However, in the Senate the Smith-Bingaman amendment (passed by a 52-48 majority) stripped $15 billion in Medicaid cuts from the resolution and created a one year bi-partisan commission to study and recommend possible changes.
  • The Kaiser Family Foundation released a new guide, Navigating Medicare and Medicaid 2005: Resource Guides for People with Disabilities, Their Families and Their Advocates. The guide is available at www.kff.org/medicare/7240.cfm.

Trainings/Conferences

  • ISO Technical Assistance on April 5 at SAM, Inc. in Reading, PA. Sponsored by the Pennsylvania MH/MR Administrators Association, there are a few openings for providers. For details contact Deb Neifert at dneifert@pacounties.org.
  • Annual Conference on Medical Care for Persons with Developmental Disabilities on May 20 at Westin, Princeton, NJ. Sponsored by The Arc of New Jersey, information is available by contacting Risa Layman at rlayman@arcnj.org.
  • Brain Injury Specialist Certification Training on June 26 for entry level staff and experienced professionals working in brain injury services. Agencies working with or interested in the state’s COMMCARE wavier for Traumatic Brain Injury may be interested in attending. For information access http://biausa.org.

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