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Mental Retardation Update
December 8, 2003

CMS Progress Report
The CMS Grants Progress Report Meeting scheduled for December 10 can be accessed by telephone to listen to the presentations. If you have confirmed your attendance and now need to join by telephone, contact either maprosser@state.pa.us or 717-772-8313 for access information.

Dialogue on “30 Hour Rule”
Joe Solomon from Mercy Behavioral Health in Pittsburgh would like to talk with other providers who are dealing with the “30 Hour Rule,” which addresses residential homes for three or fewer people who are 18 years of age or older and who need a yearly average of 30 hours or less of direct staff contact per week per home that do not have to be licensed. Contact him at jsolomon@mercybh.org.

MR Bulletin on MAWD
The Office of Mental Retardation has issued MR Bulletin #00-03-11 which provides information regarding Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities (MAWD) - a program offering health care coverage to persons with disabilities. Under MAWD individuals can receive Medicaid while working, even when their earnings increase above the limits for other Medicaid programs. MAWD recipients pay monthly premium based upon five percent of their countable monthly income. Persons receiving services funded by the Home and Community Based Services Waiver are eligible for MAWD effective October 28. The bulletin addresses eligibility criteria, Medicaid Estate Recovery requirements, and referral procedures. Questions should be directed to your regional Office of Mental Retardation or County MH/MR. For a copy of the bulletin, contact Linda Drummond or Abbie Hitz at PCPA.

Assistive Technology
The Alliance for Technology Access (ATA), a national network of assistive technology resource centers, vendors, and community agencies announced the launch of “The Hub” a free interactive service that provides data on technology products and services. Visit www.ATAccess.org/hub.

Federal Issues

  1. Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) Administrator Tom Scully announced his resignation effective December 15. An acting administrator will be announced next week.
  2. Prior to Thanksgiving the House and Senate reached agreement on the FY2004 Appropriations for 12 federal departments. This $820 billion bill contains funding for disability related departments of Labor, Health & Human Services, Education, HUD, and Transportation. Overall human services spending is increased 4%. The House is schedule to vote today, and the Senate tomorrow on the omnibus bill. Currently the government is operating under a Continuing Resolution that expires on January 31, 2004. If the Senate cannot reach a unanimous consent it will wait until it reconvenes on January 20 to vote again.
  3. Budgeted items of interest:
    • IDEA State Grant program (Part B) increased by $1.3 billion;
    • IDEA Preschool increased by $2.5 million;
    • IDEA Part C Early Intervention increased by $12.8 million;
    • Rehabilitation programs of Supported Employment and Independent Living State Grant programs no increase;
    • Vocational Rehabilitation State Grant program increased by $50.7 million;
    • Assistive Technology program cut by $.7 million;
    • Centers for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities increased $16 million (On December 3, President Bush signed into law (PL108-154) the Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities Prevention Act);
    • HUD Section 811 funding for capital advances and project-based assistance to non-profits developing group homes and community housing for persons with severe disabilities is funded at $256 million.

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