Govt. Affairs

Senate Bill 906 SB 906, calling for a state center closure moratorium, has passed the House by a vote of 139–55. The bill amends the Mental Health and Intellectual Disability Act, in preliminary provisions, further providing for definitions; and, in responsibilities of the State, providing for a state center closure moratorium. The amendment sponsored by state Representative Lee James passed Tuesday, January 14, 2020. The measure eradicates previous wording on the bill that placed a moratorium on the closure of state centers until all Medicaid waiver-eligible individuals on the waiting list (of over 13,000) received funding for home or community-based care. The moratorium would now have a five-year limit.

The bill calls for the creation of a task force on the closure of state centers. The task force would convene within 60 days and be comprised of the Secretary of Department of Human Services, one representative from each state center, one representative from the Governor’s office, the chair and minority chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and House Human Services Committee, two family members of residents of state centers, and one representative of a nonprofit organization that serves as an advocate for those with intellectual disabilities. The bill now goes back to the Senate as the bill was amended on the floor yesterday.


January 13, 2020

Contact: CMS Media Relations
(202) 690-6145 | CMS Media Inquiries

CMS Reduces Psychiatric Hospital Burden with New Survey Process
Streamlined process will improve quality of care for patients

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a streamlined survey and certification process for psychiatric hospitals, delivering on the Agency’s “Patients Over Paperwork” initiative. The full benefits of this initiative can be explored here. This new process will ensure safety and quality through more holistic and efficient hospital inspections that protect patients, while reducing burden for providers.

Currently, psychiatric hospitals surveyed by State Survey Agencies are subject to two separate onsite compliance surveys, one by the State Survey Agency (SSA) for compliance with the hospital requirements and one by an outside contractor selected by the SSA for compliance with two additional psychiatric hospital standards.

Beginning in March 2020, CMS will implement a streamlined process in which psychiatric hospitals will receive one comprehensive hospital survey performed by the SSA to review compliance with both hospital and psychiatric hospital participation requirements, allowing inspectors to take a broader view of a psychiatric hospital’s operations and better identify systemic quality issues.

“The policy of multiple inspections for psychiatric hospitals is emblematic of the absurd status quo in healthcare. For too long, fragmented and misaligned processes have increased burden and administrative costs,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Under President Trump’s leadership, CMS is upending the status quo and forging ahead with practical, commonsense changes to streamline our processes to reduce burden and improve oversight and patient safety, and reducing unnecessary administrative costs.”

To participate in Medicare, a psychiatric hospital is required to meet both general hospital Conditions of Participation (CoPs) and separate CoPs for psychiatric hospitals. CoPs are federal requirements that promote the health, safety and well-being of the patients being treated in these facilities. CMS is not making any changes to these safety and quality requirements.

Moving to a single survey process will benefit patients by ensuring psychiatric hospital services are evaluated in the context of the overall hospital survey program, making it easier for surveyors and the provider to identify and correct systemic quality issues that impact patient care. It also benefits providers by reducing the regulatory burden currently imposed on psychiatric hospitals because a single survey team conducting the survey will conduct, and only one report would be issued documenting any survey findings, instead of two.

CMS is notifying hospitals, SSAs and psychiatric hospital stakeholders of this upcoming change through a memorandum released today. This change does not affect accreditation organizations’ current methodologies for approving hospitals or psychiatric hospitals, or CMS’s criteria for approving accreditation organizations to survey such facilities. To ensure states are appropriately prepared to begin conducting these surveys in March 2020, CMS is developing an online training that will be released soon.

For more information about the change in the psychiatric hospital survey process and to see the memorandum, visit:


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You are cordially invited to Representative Joseph Hohenstein’s all-day summit in Philadelphia on Thursday, January 16. The summit will highlight the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Democrat Caucus will also be holding two separate policy hearings during January to recognize this occasion.

Register for Rep. Hohenstein’s Philadelphia event here, which will be hosted at Community Behavioral Health. There are a number of confirmed speakers ranging from service providers, the Philadelphia Eagles (discussing the Quiet Room at Lincoln Financial Field), Comcast (discussing technological advances to help people with intellectual disabilities access the internet and communicate), Senator Casey’s and Gov. Wolf’s offices (to discuss federal and state legislative initiatives), as well as others.

If you have any questions, please contact Jack Phillips, RCPA Director of Government Affairs.

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Governor Wolf has re-submitted his Overtime Rule to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC). As you may recall, the Pennsylvania Senate towards the end of the Fall Session voted in favor of SB 79 to gradually increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $9.50/hour over the next 18 months to two years. Prior to the Senate approving SB 79, the State Senate and Governor Wolf agreed to increase the state’s minimum wage by $2.25 from the current rate of $7.25, and in conjunction for raising the minimum wage, the Governor would not submit his proposed rule to expand overtime to low level managers for the next two years, until after the next governor is elected.

Despite the agreement between the State Senate and the Governor, SB 79 is now in the House Labor and Industry Committee, where it appears it will not receive a vote; therefore, the Governor has resubmitted his Overtime to Rule to the IRRC. The IRRC has placed the Governor’s Overtime Rule on its January 31 agenda.

RCPA, along with other statewide business groups and associations, are asking members to IMMEDIATELY contact House Leadership and members of the House Labor and Industry Committee, requesting that SB 79 receive a favorable vote out of committee and have a vote on the House floor.

Talking Points
RCPA supports an increase in the minimum wage for entry level health care workers. With an increase to minimum wage, the General Assembly needs to appropriate supplementary monies to cover the additional costs providers will incur to increase wages for managerial workers.

Most employers are already paying new hires and existing employees more than the proposed increase to the minimum wage in SB 79, due to market demands.

The Governor’s Overtime Rule will have a more detrimental effect on employers than an increase to the minimum wage. Questions, please contact Jack Phillips.

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(Text of Jan. 7 press release)

HARRISBURG – Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) announced today he has appointed Rep. Tom Murt (R-Montgomery) to serve as chair of the Human Services Committee and Rep. Gary Day (R-Lehigh/Berks) as chair of the Aging and Older Adult Services Committee during the 2019–20 Legislative Session.

“I am confident these chairmen will do an exceptional job at running the committees smoothly and ensuring the people of the Commonwealth are taken care of,” said Turzai. “I look forward to the legislation their committees examine and potentially pass forward to the House.”

Murt previously served as the chair of the Aging and Older Adult Services and will now serve as the chairman of the Human Services Committee. The Human Services Committee is responsible for legislative oversight of matters pertaining to the Department of Human Services and the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks), former chair of the Human Services Committee has resigned, leaving the seat open.

Day previously served on the Gaming Oversight, Insurance, Professional Licensure, and Tourism and Recreational Development committees and will now serve as the chairman of the Aging and Older Adult Services Committee. The Aging & Older Adult Services Committee oversees all legislation related to programs and services that pertain to seniors.

Media contact: Neal Lesher, 717-260-6495, 717-507-9240

This new report, compiled by George Washington University’s Health Information and the Law project, maps out the current substance use treatment confidentiality policies and landscape in Pennsylvania, and explores some of the challenges impacting Pennsylvania stakeholders. This is a thorough review that looks at how policies have been integrated into regulations and licensing, and how different payers and conditions may change the rules that apply to which information may or may not be shared. This topic will be an area of focus for both RCPA and DDAP in the coming year – please take the time to review this information, and share with your staff.

This report was commissioned by Vital Strategies as an external, non-partisan review of current policies. Contact RCPA Drug & Alcohol Division Director Kristen Houser with questions.