Authors Posts by Jim Sharp

Jim Sharp


Speaker at Business Conference and Presentation. Audience at the conference hall.

Registration for the 12th Annual Pennsylvania Autism Training Conference (PATC), Thursday and Friday, September 5-6 in Lancaster, PA is now open. PATC is an excellent training and networking opportunity for supports coordinators, employment service providers, job coaches, direct support professionals, residential service workers, community support providers, and any other professional who supports individuals with autism of all ages.

PATC gives providers a chance to learn about important topics like autism and the justice system, engage with experts at a mentoring breakfast, earn continuing education and training credits, and enjoy an evening networking reception with other providers across Pennsylvania. Please see the attached flyer for more information.

Can’t attend in person? Don’t worry! Check out the ASERT Facebook Page to view live interviews with presenters!

Contact RCPA Children’s Division Director Jim Sharp with questions.


Today, the 55 Pa. Code Chapter 1155, Intensive Behavioral Health Services and the 55 Pa. Code Chapter 5240, Intensive Behavioral Health Services were unanimously approved by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC).  These regulations are the result of an OMHSAS and stakeholder partnership that included a 75-person statewide work group that began in May of 2016.

During testimony, Acting Deputy Secretary Val Vicari, provided an overview of the process, as well as addressing the need for revisions to the regulatory reform language around staffing qualifications for individual services, ABA, and group services ensuring fidelity to each specific treatment modality. Additionally, areas of supervision were included in the Deputy Secretary’s comments that adjustments to the operational language will need to be consistent across the regulations.

Several attendees provided testimony on the record, including Jim Sharp, RCPA Children’s Division director. While RCPA supports the broad scope of the IBHS regulations, their noted concerns regarding the preservation of Individual Services delivery standards, operationalizing staff supervision activities, and the creation of a program sustaining fiscal rate infrastructure model were all addressed in the OMHSAS position to advance the approval of the regulations.

RCPA congratulates the Department of Human Services (DHS); OHMSAS Acting Deputy Secretary Val Vicari, as well as Children’s Bureau Director Scott Talley and team. We would also like to express our gratitude to the RCPA IBHS work group and Children’s Division Steering Committee for their dedicated efforts during this process and their integral thoughts in preparing for the IRRC IBHS hearing this week.

The RPCA Children’s Steering Committee will continue to monitor the progress of the IBHS regulations as they move to the Office of the Attorney General.

RCPA will send the final regulations out as soon as they are approved by the Office of the Attorney General and published by DHS.

Contact Jim Sharp, RCPA Children’s Division Director, with questions.

Governor Wolf signed the FY 19/20 budget at the end of June, which includes $2.5 million for the Parent Pathways initiative, led by the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Department of Education (PDE).

The departments are in the process of developing a competitive Request for Applications (RFA) to award Parent Pathway models. They are continuing to receive input on the initiative and explore options for distributing the $2.5M implementation funding. As previously shared, they plan to award grant funding in two phases for Parent Pathway models – first, for technical assistance for model planning and development, and second, implementation funding.

Parent Pathways seeks to establish community-specific comprehensive models to support access to, and success in, post-secondary education and training for single parents. Specifically, the departments propose to invest in holistic models that address the needs of parents and children together, and successfully leverage partnerships to offer sustainable post-secondary education solutions to the multiple barriers often facing families experiencing economic challenges.

The departments recognize that in order for Parent Pathways models to be successful, the awards should allow flexibility for communities to best meet the needs of potential participants in these programs. Stakeholders are asked to complete this survey by Friday, August 16, to help inform the development of this RFA.

Please visit this website for updates on the initiative and various resources available to assist you in community engagement and development.

RCPA would like to remind members that all comments regarding the review of the new Intensive Behavioral Health Services (IBHS) at the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) hearing are due by the 48-hour blackout period, which begins Tuesday, August 13, 2019 at 10:00 am.

The IRRC public hearing will be held on Thursday, August 15, 10:00 am, at 333 Market Street, 14th Floor Conference Room, Harrisburg.

When submitting your comments to IRRC and the Department of Human Services/OMHSAS, you will need to include a statement as to whether you “support” or “oppose” the new regulations.

  • Use this link to submit your SUPPORT or OPPOSITION letter to IRRC.
  • Submissions to Department of Human Services/OMHSAS can be sent to Courtney Malecki.

Please be sure to reference the following as the regulation you are commenting on:
No. 3209 Department of Human Services #14-546: Intensive Behavioral Health Services

Please remember to send a copy to RCPA Children’s Division Director, Jim Sharp as well. RCPA will be attending the IRRC Public Hearing to provide comment and testimony. Any questions, please contact Jim Sharp, RCPA Children’s Division Director.

ISSUE DATE: July 30, 2019

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2019

SCOPE: This bulletin applies to all behavioral health providers licensed or approved by the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) or the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) that are enrolled in the Medical Assistance (MA) program, or who seek to enroll, revalidate, or re-activate their enrollment.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this bulletin is to:

  • Clarify for behavioral health providers the applicability of the requirements published in the Medical Assistance Bulletin (MAB) 99-18-11, “Service Location Enrollment Deadline,” which reminded providers to enroll each service location out of which they operate; and
  • Advise behavioral health providers that effective October 1, 2019, they must use the enrolled service location at which a service was provided on claims.

The following link will provide access to the bulletin: OMHSAS 19-02 – Service Location Enrollment for BH Providers.

Additionally, we have been advised by OMHSAS that as providers continue to enroll service locations, providers can utilize their main physical site address for billing pending site enrollment in PROMISe. If you have any questions, please contact RCPA Mental Health Division Director Sarah Eyster or RCPA Children’s Division Director Jim Sharp.

The PA Statewide Family Group Decision Making (FGDM) Leadership Team is pleased to provide the Save the Date information for the 2020 Biennial FGDM Conference. They are especially thrilled to bring back to Pennsylvania Jodi Pfarr, aha! Process, Inc. This conference is being held on April 22 and 23, 2020 at the Seven Springs Mountain Resort, 777 Waterwheel Drive, Seven Springs, PA 15622. Please note this is a change in location for this conference.

Information and educational tracks for this conference will be relevant to CCYA administrators, judges, hearing officers, attorneys, child welfare professionals, and providers of family group decision making. Please share this information with those you deem appropriate in your county. Registration and specific session information will be sent out in December. Please contact Christy Stanek at 412-616-1079 or via email, should you have any questions. Looking forward to seeing all of you at Seven Springs in 2020!

FGDM Conference Save the Date

(From DHS)

July 30, 2019

Medicaid’s 54th Anniversary Highlights Increased Healthcare Access for Pennsylvanians 

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller marked Medicaid’s 54th anniversary by highlighting the program’s success in expanding healthcare access to millions of Americans.

“Since its creation 54 years ago by President Johnson, Medicaid has had a direct and positive impact on the health of millions of Pennsylvanians for whom healthcare coverage would otherwise be unaffordable,” said Secretary Teresa Miller. “We are proud to mark today’s anniversary and the good work the people at DHS have done in implementing Medicaid and its expansion.”

Since 2015, about 1.4 million people – or one in 10 Pennsylvanians — have been covered at some point by Governor Tom Wolf’s expansion of Medicaid. As a result of Medicaid expansion, Pennsylvania has achieved its lowest uninsured rate on record and has reduced hospitals’ uncompensated care costs across the commonwealth by almost $330 million. Most importantly, Medicaid expansion has resulted in comprehensive healthcare access to more than 700,000 previously uninsured Pennsylvanians who now have the resources they need to focus on living a healthy, fulfilling life. In total, more than 2.8 million Pennsylvanians have access to healthcare through Medicaid.

The Wolf Administration remains committed to ensuring Medicaid remains accessible to any Pennsylvanian who may need it, including the 800,000 who could be negatively affected by Medicaid work requirements. One of DHS’ top priorities is increasing employment opportunities for those we serve, but work requirements are not an effective way of accomplishing this goal. Without meaningful workforce development supports and services, work requirements are just another obstacle to a higher quality of life. Tied to Medicaid, work requirements would achieve nothing but the denial of healthcare to people who need it.

“Our goal at DHS is to implement programs that empower Pennsylvanians to support themselves and their families,” said Secretary Miller. “Meeting a person’s health needs is one of the most important steps to helping them excel in education, training, and the workforce. The Wolf Administration is committed to the continued expansion of a healthcare system that advances services and supports to treat the whole person.”

For more information about Medicaid in Pennsylvania, click here.

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The Children’s Committee Meeting set for Wednesday, August 15 has been moved to Wednesday, October 16 at the Penn Grant Centre (RCPA), 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. The meeting was moved so members could attend the two-day Value-Based Purchasing Summit in Harrisburg, August 14–15. We look forward to seeing everyone in October. Contact RCPA Children’s Division Director Jim Sharp with any questions.

The Medical Assistance Promoting Interoperability Program, formerly the Medical Assistance Electronic Health Record Incentive Program (MA EHR), is in the process of updating their State Medical Assistance Health Information Technology Plan (SMHP) for 2019.

Your assistance is requested in reviewing and updating this SMHP document by providing feedback or suggestions for this year. The deadline to submit your review is Tuesday, August 6, 2019 at noon. Please use the comments feature, in lieu of track changes, to record your proposed edits to the plan. With multiple reviewers, integrating all input with track changes can become unwieldy. In this way, they can better manage version control on their end. In addition, please save your changes with your last and first name. For example, smith- john_PA_SMHP_2019_DRAFT.docx.

During this stage of the document creation process, they are looking for specific content suggestions, clarifications, and projects. For background information on the SMHP, visit this web page. Contact RCPA Children’s Division Director Jim Sharp with questions.

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Since the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed HB 33, eliminating the General Assistance program, legislative and advocacy groups are working to help Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable and impoverished populations previously receiving support from General Assistance. Senate Bill 799 has been introduced to establish the Emergency Relief Program. This program is designed to provide temporary emergency assistance of $200 per month for the most vulnerable populations with immediate and urgent needs.

The Emergency Relief Program goes to people with disabilities who cannot work, people in treatment for a substance use disorder, orphaned children cared for by neighbors or friends, people fleeing domestic violence, qualified veterans, or people caring for someone with a disability.

Additionally, Community Legal Services in Philadelphia filed suit against the Department of Human Services, challenging the constitutionality of HB 33 and the manner in which it was passed. See the document below for more information:

Contact Jim Sharp, RCPA Children’s Division Director, with questions.