Authors Posts by Sarah Eyster

Sarah Eyster

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Ms. Eyster represents the association at state-level meetings and serves as staff liaison to the Mental Health Committee. She is responsible for member communication of, and the analysis of, Department of Human Services and other key policy decisions.

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On September 4, 2014, the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) passed the first set of regulations advanced by the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP). As reported, a small group of RCPA members worked for several months reviewing the regulations line-by-line. RCPA is pleased to report that all of the recommendations from the association were accepted by DDAP and, after a long process, the Drug and Alcohol Facilities and Services and companion Standards for Licensure of Freestanding Treatment Facilities were approved unanimously by IRRC.

It appears that this information has not yet reached some providers. A final copy of each set of new regulations is available online through the above links. Contact Lynn Cooper with any questions.

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Registration brochure  •  Online registration

Registration for the 2015 RCPA conference, Leading the Way, is open. There are multiple ways to register, and significant discounts available to those who register by September 4. The conference theme is focused on moving RCPA members forward in developing opportunities and innovations to lead the way for Pennsylvania. Energized by activities taking place in our work, our theme highlights the importance of integrating treatment and services, maximizing human capital, and driving change to effective and high-quality care.

The robust conference agenda brings ample opportunities to learn and dialogue, with stellar speakers to offer a variety of stimulating and timely information. This event features more than 58 workshops, a film screening, four stimulating and thought-provoking plenary sessions, a vibrant Exhibit Hall; networking events, time to interact with colleagues, and opportunities for creative thinking to inspire passion to create change.

An interactive registration brochure is available for download and provides essential information on the go. The website, coming shortly, will offer complete information about all scheduled activities and details about workshops, exhibitors, and sponsors. Online registration is available and open at this time.

Mark your calendar for October 6 – 9 and join the Conference Committee, Board of Directors, and staff at Seven Springs Mountain Resort. Questions may be directed to Sarah Eyster, conference coordinator, or Tieanna Lloyd, conference registrar.

The National Council released the information described below on July 9. RCPA will be accepting comments to provide to the National Council until August 3.

The Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed extending its overtime pay exemption rules to include employees making up to $50,440 next year, a change that could affect up to 5 million workers. Under the new proposal, the salary threshold for overtime pay would rise to $970 per week ($50,440 per year) in 2016. The current level of $455 per week ($23,660) was established in 2004, and it is below the poverty line for a family of four.

Unlike the current exemption threshold, the newly proposed threshold is linked not to a specific salary amount, but to the 40th percentile of wage earners. Thus, the new salary threshold will automatically update over time. The proposed regulation affects white collar workers (executive, administrative, and professional). More information is available in this fact sheet.

The DOL has posted the proposal online, giving people the opportunity to submit written comments on or before September 4. The White House has stated that the DOL will release a final rule next year after reviewing and considering these comments.

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RCPA sent a letter to the leadership and support of the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) and the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), requesting that a task force be formed to review and change the extremely outdated drug and alcohol medical assistance outpatient regulations, Chapter 1223 Outpatient Drug and Alcohol Clinic Services. OMHSAS did an outstanding job of organizing a task force and developing regulation changes for mental health outpatient services. These much improved regulations are in the last stages of being finalized. The same process needs to be implemented for drug and alcohol outpatient services. As stated many times before, outpatient treatment in Pennsylvania is at risk of collapse.

A number of years ago, RCPA (known as PCPA at the time) developed a white paper, which highlights the value of outpatient services, reviews the current challenges/threats to services, and outlines what needs to happen to assure the viability of these critical services. The paper emphasizes that when utilized appropriately, outpatient treatment can save millions of dollars in inpatient and emergency room costs. The paper also highlights specific clinical, regulatory, and financial challenges, and makes recommendations for changes in both mental health and drug and alcohol services.

As with the mental health outpatient regulation changes, changes in the drug and alcohol outpatient regulations will save money, improve access and services, reduce unnecessary paperwork, update clinical terminology, update treatment trends, and improve outcomes.

RCPA requested that a time limited group of stakeholders be convened to evaluate drug and alcohol outpatient medical assistance regulation issues and make recommendations for much needed changes. Given the current issues that exist, this task force needs to be implemented as soon as possible. Contact Lynn Cooper with questions or for any additional information.