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MR Update #07-06: ODP Update, Service Definitions, Loan Forgiveness Bill, Youth Employment Training
February 23, 2007

The February Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) Planning Advisory Committee included updates regarding initiatives and anticipated system direction. Deputy Secretary Casey anticipates this office expanding over time to include other bureaus such as acquired brain injury and cerebral palsy. This will occur only as funding becomes available for these supports.

The Bureau of Autism Services is seeking funding sources such as a new federal waiver, conversion of the current OBRA waiver, and the use of a prepaid insurance health plan option. Bureau Director Nina Wall Cote said increased funding will be used for up to 140 adults with autism currently unserved. Respite services are continually requested services by families. The bureau does a monthly update of its activities which is available at www.dpw.state.pa.us.

OPD, in cooperation with the Governor’s Office of Health Care Reform, is reapplying to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for late 2007 funding for the “Money Follows the Person” initiative. If approved, this would be used to assist in the transition of persons from institutional to community services.

A variety of issues yet to be resolved or policies developed by ODP include:

  • Expansion of a county monitoring component.
  • ODP monitoring of county implementation of any legislatively approved cost-of-living adjustment.
  • Monitoring of health and safety issues in Family Living/Lifesharing services.
  • Expansion of quality management efforts (recommendations welcome).
  • Least restrictive environment/options must be considered first in person planning.
  • Mercer Consulting developing recommendations on state-set rates for self-directed services only.
  • Provider qualifications criteria needs to be developed; pilots were unsuccessful.
  • Medical decision making and guardianship issues are increasingly becoming an issue for providers and individuals. Mr. Casey will meet with Department of Public Welfare legal and state provider associations to review these issues.
  • Any provider dealing with a county not renewing their contract for waiver services because they are requiring additional documentation should contact the regional ODP office.
  • Personal Care Homes may be eliminated as an option for those on the Person/Family Directed Support waiver. Deputy Secretary Casey thinks current personal care home licensing is not adequate to meet ODP standards.
  • Sheltered workshop placements will be discouraged and would require Mr. Casey’s approval.
  • ODP meets quarterly with CMS to review status of work plan for consolidated waiver.

Service Definitions
ODP issued a letter to provide clarification on service definitions and waiver funding. The service definitions in the consolidated waiver supersede other published service definitions, including service definitions published in the Service Definitions bulletin. Since there are discrepancies between service definitions in the approved waivers and the current bulletin, ODP is developing a revised bulletin. Service definitions in the Consolidated waiver will be mirrored in the Person/Family Directed Support waiver.

The timeline for submission of revised service definitions to CMS is the end of June. This would allow distribution of the new definitions to county/administrative entities by January 2008. There will be a public comment period prior to submission to CMS.

Loan Forgiveness
House Bill 282 was introduced and referred to the House Health and Human Services Committee. The legislation provides for mental health, mental retardation and alcohol and drug addition counselor staff loan forgiveness. Individuals must have completed a two or four year academic degree or graduate level degree at an accredited college or university. They would have to be hired as full-time staff by a county or service agency. College loan forgiveness over four years of full-time work is for a maximum of $20,000 or $5,000 per year. To review this legislation access www.legis.state.pa.us.

Building Employment Partnerships
The Pennsylvania Department of Education, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, and Transition Leadership Team are conducting March trainings across the state to address Building Partnerships to Improve Employment Outcomes of Youth with Disabilities. These sessions are designed to show how to best meet the needs of youth and employers, to develop strategies to align secondary transition with high school reform and regional career education partnerships, and to begin building results-oriented partnerships with employers. For details contact Pam Ranieri (pranieri@pattan.net or 800-446-5674).

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