Govt. Affairs

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The state House of Representatives Tuesday afternoon voted 115-80 to send to the Senate another attempt to require some able-bodied Medicaid recipients to engage in work-related activity for their taxpayer-funded health insurance. The chamber resumed debate that was suspended on Monday, with several more legislators speaking about the proposal, which is similar to another work requirement bill vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf this past October. Should the bill get to Wolf’s desk, which seems likely given Senate Republicans supported the last work requirement effort, the governor has promised to veto it.

As they did last week during a committee meeting about the bill, most House Democrats during the debate on Monday and Tuesday railed against the bill, calling it unconscionable to require anyone to work for their health benefits, and claiming it could cost hundreds of millions of dollars to monitor compliance with the work requirement. Asserting that getting a job could go a long way to helping individuals eliminate their need for welfare, Republicans countered with state Department of Human Services statistics showing nearly 500,000 non-disabled adults receiving Medicaid report no income – meaning they don’t work – with that population representing more than half of the total population of non-disabled adult Medicaid recipients. Of that non-working population, GOP legislators noted only a portion would be subject to the proposed work-related activity requirements as the legislation contains an extensive list of exempted individuals: full-time high school students; recipients of temporary or permanent long-term disability benefits; anyone nineteen years of age or younger or sixty-five years of age or older; pregnant women; Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients; those in a mental health institution or correctional institution; anyone experiencing a crisis, serious medical condition or temporary condition that prevents the individual from seeking employment, including domestic violence or substance use disorder; and primary caregivers to a dependent who is under six years of age or is permanently disabled. (Source: CapitolWire.com – Under the Dome™, Wednesday, April 18, 2018)

Questions, please contact Jack Phillips.

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by Harold Brubaker, Staff Writer @InqBrubaker | hbrubaker@phillynews.com

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled Tuesday that the state Department of Human Services violated the state’s procurement code when a deputy director met in Dec. 2016 with two top executives of Centene Corp. about the company’s bid for a piece of the state’s $12 billion Medicaid business.

The 30-page decision by a panel of seven judges, written by Judge Michael H. Wojcik, came in response to a lawsuit filed by UnitedHealthcare of Pennsylvania Inc., which alleged that the meeting attended by Leesa Allen, DHS’s Deputy Secretary for the Office of Medical Assistance Programs, and Deputy Chief Counsel Sallie Rodgers, was improper and gave Centene, of St. Louis, an unfair advantage.

“We are pleased with the Commonwealth Court’s decision and look forward to continuing to serve the more than 1 million Pennsylvanians who have entrusted us with their health care needs,” United said.

The contract at issue in the court case covers the management of physical health benefits. A separate set of contracts covers long-term services and supports for the elderly and disabled.

The Human Services Department did not respond to a request for comment. It appears that the department will have to start over, for the third time, in its bid to award new Medicaid managed care contracts. The effort started in Sept. 2015.

Tuesday’s decision said the court is “limited to canceling the solicitation or award and declaring void any resulting contract” if it finds procurement law was violated.

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RCPA will keep members informed of any further developments. Contact RCPA Director of Government Affairs Jack Phillips with any questions.

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On Tuesday, April 17, RCPA will be holding its annual Capitol Day in Harrisburg. Afterwards RCPA, in conjunction with The Behavioral Health + Economics Network (BHECON, pronounced “beacon”), will be hosting a legislative reception between 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm in the Main Rotunda. All legislators will be invited to attend, so please make arrangements to stay afterwards and meet with elected officials and their staff in a more casual setting.

Please make sure to register on the Capitol Day website for the day’s events. Additionally, RCPA has added the budget one-pager to the Capitol Day website under the Handouts section.

RCPA strongly encourages members, staff, and clients to attend, and get your voice heard on the hill. Questions, please contact Jack Phillips.

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Licensing, Certification, and Incident Management Conducted by the Departments of Human Services, Health, Drug and Alcohol Programs, and Aging

The Departments of Human Services, Health, Drug and Alcohol Programs, and Aging regulate a variety of health and human services providers in order to protect the health and safety of Pennsylvanians. Among the regulatory activities, they license or certify providers and conduct incident management, as required by state and federal law. The departments are currently reexamining processes to identify opportunities for coordinating efforts in order to streamline the licensing, certification, and incident management process and increase efficiencies for providers and the commonwealth, while maintaining and enhancing the quality of licensing and certification activities of the providers they regulate. As part of this process, they are seeking input from stakeholders of the Departments of Human Services, Health, Drug and Alcohol Programs, and/or Aging on the following questions. These questions are focused on providers, but feedback is welcome from advocates and other stakeholders. Please send responses via email by Monday, April 30, 2018.

  1. Which of the following commonwealth agencies do you interact with for licensing and certification: the Departments of Human Services, Health, Drug and Alcohol Programs, and/or Aging? Please identify the specific license or certificate types you have.
  2. Which of the following commonwealth agencies do you interact with when you must report an incident that took place at your facility/agency: the Departments of Human Services, Health, Drug and Alcohol Programs, and/or Aging? This could include incidents required to be reported per licensing regulations, or home and community based (waiver) programs.
  3. What works well in interacting with multiple commonwealth agencies on licensing, certification, and incident management activities?
  4. What challenges do you experience in interacting with multiple commonwealth agencies on licensing, certification, and incident management activities? If possible, please identify whether the challenges are caused by statutory or regulatory requirements, policy or operational guidance, or agency processes or technology.
  5. What opportunities do you see for the commonwealth to streamline your experience interacting with multiple commonwealth agencies on licensing, certification, and incident management activities?

This is a major opportunity that can’t be missed. The work being done by the departments is what RCPA and its members have been advocating for over many years. We currently have an administration willing and able to make significant changes. Members are asked to provide as much detail as possible in your responses.

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Calling all golfers, it’s time to register for RCPA/RCPA PAC’s 5th annual golf outing at the beautiful Hershey Country Club, 1000 East Derry Road, Hershey, PA 17033 on Thursday, May 17. Registration starts at 10:30 am, lunch begins at 11:00 am, followed by a putting contest and 12:30 pm shotgun start.

Golf outing sponsorships are also available. We hope you will considering becoming a golf sponsor; it is a great opportunity to support this worthy cause and your agency will be recognized throughout the tournament.

The RCPA PAC raises money and supports campaigns of state legislators who work tirelessly on issues that benefit mental health, intellectual disabilities, children’ services, substance use disorder treatment and services, brain injuries, medical and vocational rehabilitation, physical disabilities and aging, and other related human services. The funds raised through RCPA PAC can make the difference between a win and a loss on an issue or assist in making a new ally. Even if you can’t be a strong contributor to RCPA PAC fundraising efforts, we all have friends and business associates who are interested in helping our allies to victory. Getting involved in RCPA PAC not only allows you to help make decisions on who the committee supports, but also helps to identify new folks who will join in our successes.

Further questions may be directed to Jack Phillips.

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Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania Senate unanimously confirmed Governor Wolf’s appointments to the Department of Health, Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine; the Department of Human Services, Secretary Teresa Miller; the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, Secretary Jennifer Smith; and Insurance Commissioner, Jessica Altman. Governor Wolf said, “It gives me great pride to congratulate these four accomplished, capable women on their confirmations today. They each bring unique experience to their respective positions, but they share the same passion to serve our commonwealth and its residents.”

RCPA has had the pleasure of working with these leaders in their “acting” capacity, and congratulates them on their confirmations. The association looks forward to continuing our positive relationships and working with them to make major improvements in their respective fields.

See the Governor’s official press release.

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The state Senate’s Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee is scheduled to meet Monday morning in the state Capitol to consider several executive nominations made by Governor Tom Wolf.

The 10:30 am meeting, to be held in Room 8E–B of the state Capitol’s East Wing, will feature the nominations of Department of Human Services (DHS) Acting Secretary Teresa Miller, Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) Acting Secretary Jennifer Smith, and Department of Health (DOH) Acting Secretary Rachel Levine. Questions, please contact Jack Phillips.

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On Tuesday, April 17, RCPA will be holding its annual Capitol Day in Harrisburg. After the conclusion of Capitol Day, RCPA in conjunction with The Behavioral Health + Economics Network, known as BHECON (pronounced “beacon”), will be hosting a legislative reception between 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm in the Main Rotunda. All legislators will be invited to attend, so please make arrangements to stay afterwards and meet with elected officials and their staff in a more casual setting.

Please make sure to register on the Capitol Day website for the day’s events. Additionally, RCPA has secured a block of 10 rooms at the Crowne Plaza in downtown Harrisburg. Members can visit the Crowne Plaza’s website and enter code RCP to book your room(s) at a rate of $129 for the night. The room rate includes one breakfast.

RCPA strongly encourages members, staff, and clients to attend, and get your voice heard on the hill. Questions, please contact Jack Phillips.

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Rep. Dan Miller: ‘Mental Health and School Safety’ topic of March 13 News Conference

Text of March 8 media advisory.

HARRISBURG – State Rep. Dan Miller, D-Mt. Lebanon, joined by other legislators, will host a “Mental Health and School Safety” news conference at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 13 in the Capitol Media Center.

Spurred in part by national reaction to the recent school shooting tragedy in Parkland, Fla., the legislators want to ensure that any aspect of mental health discussed in relation to school violence is appropriately tailored and addressed in a way that will not increase stigma or reinforce negative stereotypes.

While they agree this is a very important discussion to have, the legislators also want to underscore that too many have fought too hard for parity, acceptance and support to allow the roughly 20 percent of U.S. residents with a mental health issue to unjustly shoulder the blame for all acts of school violence.

Additionally, participants intend to stress the reality that people with a mental health issue are much more likely to be victims of crime than its perpetrators.

Participating legislators will be joined by spokespeople from key stakeholder groups, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association.

In addition to Miller, state Reps. Mike Schlossberg, Tom Murt, Gene DiGirolamo, Jason Ortitay and Judy Ward are among those expected to attend.

Media coverage is invited.

Questions, please contact Jack Phillips.