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MR Update #06-02: Altoona Center, MR Bulletins, Certified Investigators, State Budget, Vacancy Survey, Trainings, and Workshops
February 7, 2006

Altoona Center
According to the January 31 edition of The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, federal Judge Kim Gibson will not block the planned closure of the state’s Altoona Center saying that to do so would be improper federal interference in state policy. Families of individuals residing at Altoona Center had filed a lawsuit requesting an injunction against the closure. They felt the closure would violate the federal Olmstead mandate to house persons with disabilities in the least restrictive environment.

At least half of the 90 residents are expected to select Ebensburg State Center as their new home. An additional eight to ten persons who have selected community living will be temporarily house there until homes become available.

Gibson ordered the state to impose several safeguards to address concerns of families and guardians. The individual support plans must be followed in any transfer and no resident will be forced into a group home without family or guardian consent. There will be an 18 month “standby” period to allow residents transferred to group homes to leave and enter Ebensburg instead. All residents must have court appointed legal guardians and the guardians must decide where the residents will live by March 8.

MR Bulletins
The Office of Mental Retardation (OMR) has released several new Mental Retardation Bulletins. Electronic copies are available from Linda Drummond.

  • OMR Provider Dispute Resolution Protocol for Individuals in the Consolidated Waiver
  • Payment for Sign Language Interpreters
  • Revised Units for Service Definitions and Procedure Codes for Healthcare and Non-Healthcare Waiver and Base Services

Certified Investigators
OMR Certified Investigators trainings and recertification trainings are posted at www.omrinvestigators.com. Certification trainings are scheduled as follow:

  • February 14-17, PaTTAN, Pittsburgh
  • February 27-March 2, TAIG, Philadelphia
  • March 6-9, Developing Training Center, Hamburg
  • April 24-27, Business Central, Carlisle
  • May 1, Philadelphia

Recertification courses are available for registration on the Learning Management System at www.humanservices-r.state.pa.us/HCSISLMS.

OMR Video/Internet Sessions
OMR is providing two information sessions on February 16 which may be viewed by video at select locations or on the Internet. To register or for further information contact ocs_registrationsrr@tiu11.org.

  • OMR Update: Changing Practices to address Issues Identified by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
  • Supports Coordination Services Information Session on New OMR Bulletins

HCSIS Update
HCSISI Release 5.3.0 went live January 14 with the addition of Microsoft Excel as a report format option and ability to search by Supports Coordinator or Entity. HCSIS will be used to capture the new rates set by providers effective July 1. The rates will be analyzed and the results used to refine the rate setting bulletin and guidelines. The new PUNS functionality will be available April 4. For an electronic copy of this update, contact Linda Drummond at PCPA.

State Budget
The state’s General Fund revenue is $136 million over estimate in January, which increases the year-to-date revenue surplus to nearly $307 million. Five months remain in the fiscal year. Revenue is being driven by strong corporation, persona,l and sales tax collections.

The governor’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2006/07 will be released February 8. Rendell has indicated there will be no new taxes and tax cuts to businesses. Despite a reduction in federal funds, the budget will provide $500 million to cover costs for protecting seniors, children, and the disabled. PCPA will be providing a budget analysis on Wednesday.

OMR Survey
OMR has distributed a provider survey related to vacancy and turnover. Completion of the survey is voluntary. The survey is to be completed for community residential and in-home supports funded by OMR and does not include ICFs/MR or state centers. For a copy of the survey contact Linda Drummond at PCPA.

Trainings/Workshops

  • February 15 teleconference on Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman and Medicare Part D Update; dial 800-837-1935 and ID #3102342.
  • March 6 is the due date for submitting workshop proposals to PCPA for the October Annual Conference at Seven Springs Resort, Champion, PA. Submission information is available from the home page or by contacting Kris Ericson.
  • April 21 conference for direct service professionals, Advancing in the Human Services Field: It’s Not a Job, It’s a Profession, at the City Line Hilton, Philadelphia. For details call 215-877-6400 or www.philalliance.org.
  • April 28 conference, Developmentally Disabled Offenders Program: Equal Justice, at New Jersey Law Center, New Brunswick, NJ. For details contact The Arc of New Jersey, 732-246-2525.
  • May 16-17 conference by the state’s Department of Aging and Office of Mental Retardation, Building Bridges 2006, at Holiday Inn, Grantville, PA. For details contact PA Association of Area Agencies on Aging 717-541-4214 or janet@p4a.org.

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