Authors Posts by Jim Sharp

Jim Sharp


The American Hospital Association (AHA) urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to temporarily extend certain waivers and make others permanent beyond the COVID-19 public health emergency, to allow hospitals to provide better and more cost effective care to their patients and communities. For example, AHA recommends permanently expanding the services that can be provided via telehealth and via audio-only connection; the locations where these services can be delivered; and the practitioners and providers, such as hospital outpatient departments, that can bill for these services. It also recommends CMS continue to support increased bed capacity in rural areas in an emergency, optional quality measurement reporting during the pandemic, and delaying certain reporting requirements to focus clinical resources solely on patient care.

AHA said CMS should discontinue the flexibility for physician-owned hospitals (POHs) to increase beds, operating rooms, and procedure rooms in response to a patient surge and require POHs to return to their pre-COVID-19 bed and room counts, as data indicates these hospitals cherry-pick the healthiest and wealthiest patients, resulting in overutilization and high health care costs. In addition, AHA said the agency should not continue to allow independent freestanding emergency departments to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs as hospitals or clinics because they are not built, equipped, or staffed to meet those programs’ requirements, or using non-hospital buildings and spaces for patient care once the increased capacity is no longer necessary.

If you have questions please contact your RCPA Policy Director.

In a recent communication to RCPA and the stakeholder community, OMHSAS Deputy Secretary Kristen Houser was pleased to share the current framework for the provider Alternative Pay Arrangements (APA) that will be extended until September 30, 2020. Deputy Secretary Houser outlined the expectations that included:

  • COVID-specific APAs will remain available as an option through September 30, 2020.
  • No less than 30-day notice will be given to providers to clarify if the APAs will be ending on September 30 or continue to be an option for an additional quarter, through December 31, 2020, depending on the need due to the impact of COVID-19.
  • All APAs should now include a reconciliation to ensure no overpayments are made as providers begin to open and offer more services. Providers who are open and billing at 100% do not have the need to be included in a COVID-19 APA.

Deputy Secretary Houser stated “We understand the importance of maintaining regional agreements and oversight to allow for flexibility to meet a range of needs across the Commonwealth but also recognize that setting a statewide expectation that is consistently communicated across regions, providers and associations will help reduce confusion and subsequent questions. OMHSAS is sharing this information with provider associations and stakeholders to help alleviate any misunderstanding/miscommunication going forward, and we ask that this information be posted on BH-MCO and Primary Contractor or appropriate county websites in a location that is easy to reference. This will ensure that anyone with questions about the duration or expectations of notification of an end date will find the same information there.”

If you have additional questions, please contact your RCPA Policy Director.

ASAM Risk Rating Training
The online training will provide drug and alcohol assessors and counselors an overview of risk rating  as  used in The ASAM Criteria, 2013, and a summary walkthrough of how to apply risk rating.

Compassion Fatigue Training | June 23, 9 – 11 AM and June 30, 9:30 – 11 AM
Considering the potential impact of vicarious and secondary trauma, compassion fatigue and burn-out, professionals are provided with critical steps in identifying signs and symptoms of each. Additionally, practical skills and a commitment to self-care are an integral part of this interactive workshop.

Providing Telehealth Recovery Support Services During COVID-19 | June 23, 10 AM – Noon
Using the Stages of Change Model take a journey with us as we share lessons learned in providing telehealth Recovery Support Services during COVID-19.  PRO-ACT Certified Recovery Specialists and CRS  Supervisors will discuss their experiences as it relates to our peers and to our peer specialists.

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Business Team Concept: FUNDING

During the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Council (Council) call on June 10, 2020 and the All-County call hosted by OCYF on June 11, 2020, OCYF shared that the County Child Welfare (CCW) Appropriation reflected a nearly 13% reduction over the Governor’s tentative budget. Following these calls, many of the Council members and county agencies raised concerns regarding the impact a budget reduction would have on their child welfare program. Since that time, clarifications were received from the Governor’s Budget Office and members of the Legislature regarding the intent to address the remaining CCW Appropriation need as part of a future supplemental bill. Therefore, no reductions to the tentative allocations shared with counties in March 2020 are planned at this time. If you have any questions or feedback, please contact RCPA Children’s Director Jim Sharp.

The Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) has announced the development of an updated virtual version of the required Functional Behavioral Assessments (FBA) training. The new FBA Training will be interactive and self-paced, and will replace the existing train-the-trainer model.

The virtual training is scheduled to be released in mid-June 2020. The virtual course will be housed on the MyODP Training & Resource Center. It will include a test component, but it will not include a face-to-face component.

  • The virtual training will replace the existing 13-hour face-to-face training curriculum that you have been facilitating.
  • Once the new FBA course has been released, the virtual Train the Trainer Course will be closed, and no new trainers will be authorized.
  • Approved trainers may continue to facilitate the in-person training through July 31, 2020, and the online FBA Post-test will only be available until September 30, 2020.
  • Any person who has taken the face-to-face FBA Training facilitated by a BAS-approved FBA trainer will have until September 30, 2020 to take the online FBA Post-test. The post-test will be closed and no longer available after September 30, 2020.

Key Features of the Updated Training:
The training focuses on the assessment and replacement of challenging behaviors, as well as the development of a treatment or behavior support plan that can be used across settings and across the lifespan.

  • The examples, tools, and strategies outlined in this training are applicable to supporting individuals from childhood through adulthood.
  • The course is divided into 8 Modules. The estimated time to complete all eight modules and all the tests is 13 hours, depending on your individual learning style.
  • This course was designed to be responsive to the individual learner’s progress on tests and quizzes throughout the training.
  • Traditional and Fast-Track options are available (dependent on test/quiz scores).
  • A variety of direct and indirect assessment tools will be available to download.

Questions? Please email

As further guidance is released we will update members. If you have questions, please contact RCPA Children’s Division Director Jim Sharp.

On June 3, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf renewed the 90-day disaster declaration that he originally signed on March 6, 2020. The Proclamation to extend the Disaster Declaration can be found here.

This renewal will, for the duration of the extended disaster declaration, extend the approval of telehealth as a means of service delivery. This is in conjunction with the original memorandum from DHS and OMHSAS, “Telehealth Guidelines Related to COVID-19 (Updated),” published on May 5, 2020. See the May 5 OMHSAS Telehealth Memorandum.

The continued use and approval of telehealth services has been reviewed and confirm with OMHSAS. If you have additional questions or feedback, please contact your RCPA Policy Division Director.

The RCPA Member Telehealth Survey elicited responses from more than 300 respondents, representing nearly half of the RCPA member agencies. The data we collected provided an insightful overview of member implementation of telehealth as well as the impacts it had on practitioners and clients.

Your responses, feedback, and ongoing dialogue provided a foundation to a set of recommendations that will be shared with our stakeholder community in efforts to create a viable a platform for the expansion and sustained platform for telehealth.

RCPA thanks the members for their participation in the survey and your ongoing efforts to service those in need. View the RCPA Telehealth Survey Overview. If you have any questions, please contact your RCPA Policy Director.

The Office of Children, Youth & Families (OCYF) has provided an updated set of operations guidances based upon Governor Wolf’s three phase reopening standards for Pennsylvania. These temporary regulatory adaptations will exist as long as the declaration stands in place and any changes to these temporary regulations will be provided by DHS/OCYF.

The purpose of this guidance is to ensure child welfare service providers have a shared understanding of expectations for how services will shift and resume as counties transition from one phase to another. As always, all service delivery and decisions shall prioritize child and youth safety.

Please carefully review these color phase specific outlines that will provide directives on operational considerations, focusing on visitation, training, transportation, and other critical areas. If you have questions, concerns, or feedback please contact RCPA Children’s Division Director Jim Sharp.