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On Friday, leaders of the Senate Finance Committee reached an agreement on a 2-year extension and more than doubling the current program by adding 11 additional states to the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic Medicaid program. This agreement was announced by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), the two lead negotiators on a year-end package of health care bills.

While this is an exciting development, there is still work ahead before this legislative package becomes law. The package must still be voted on by both the House and Senate before going to President Trump for his signature.

The National Council thanks its dedicated advocates for their work in building nationwide support for CCBHCs. Your voices have been heard!

Please see below for a statement on today’s announcement from National Council President and CEO Chuck Ingoglia.

“We applaud the members of Congress who worked so hard on this agreement to fund and expand our nation’s Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics. Extending and expanding this successful program is vitally important to people who rely on the mental health and addiction services provided by CCBHCs. It’s crucial that the delivery of care not suffer from disruption, and this agreement would ensure programs and services continue uninterrupted.

“Just as importantly, expanding the program means more people in more states will benefit from access to high quality care provided by CCBHCs. In a nation reeling from an opioid and suicide crisis, that is welcome news. While the mental health and addiction crisis continue to devastate the lives of people across the country, CCBHCs represent our nation’s best response. Expansion of the program is both a fiscally responsible decision and a compassionate response from lawmakers who understand the impact CCBHCs provide in communities across the country. Expansion represents a profound opportunity to help people and heal communities.

“We understand there are many hurdles to overcome before this agreement to provide funding and expand the CCBHC program becomes a reality, but we want to applaud the leadership of those responsible for championing the CCBHC program – Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Representatives Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.).

“We also want to thank our partners in the field who joined forces with us in this shared mission. The National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health America, National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, the National Association for Behavioral Healthcare and many others have served as leaders in championing this vital program.”

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Last week, while RCPA held its Annual Conference at the Hershey Lodge, our colleagues at the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry (PA Chamber) informed us that the Federal Department of Labor submitted its final overtime rule. The PA Chamber stated the final overtime rule was published in the Friday, September 27 edition of the Federal Register. The highlights of the final rule are as follows:

  • Raises the salary threshold from the current $23,660 ($455/week) to $35,568 ($684/week);
  • Effective 1/1/2020;
  • No automatic updates or changes to the duties test;
  • Allows nondiscretionary bonuses, incentive payments, and commissions to satisfy up to 10 percent of the salary requirement; and
  • Increases the Highly Compensated Employees exemption threshold from $100,000 to $107,432 — though, as previously noted, this option is not available for employers in PA.

According to the PA Chamber, Pennsylvania employers generally accept the final overtime rule as a reasonable update to overtime regulations and employers are unlikely to challenge the final rule. Additionally, there have not been any updates on how the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry will proceed with their overtime proposal.

Thanks again to our friends at the PA Chamber for keeping health and human service providers in the loop on this important issue. Please contact Jack Phillips, RCPA Director of Government Affairs, with questions.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(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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Prior to the July 4 holiday, the House and Senate passed legislation to extend Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC) funding from June 30 through July 14. The bill, sent to President Trump for his signature, can be seen here.

RCPA is requesting members to contact their state legislators and ask them to reach out to Governor Wolf and the Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller, to have them accept the federal extension of CCBHC funding.

The areas in Pennsylvania that have CCBHC facilities are as follows:

  • Philadelphia;
  • Delaware and Montgomery counties;
  • Berks County;
  • Allegheny County;
  • Clearfield, Clarion, and Centre counties; and
  • Bradford County.

Please contact RCPA Director of Government Affairs Jack Phillips with any questions.

(Message from Chuck Ingoglia, President and CEO, National Council for Behavioral Health)**

After much debate and political back and forth, the House and Senate today passed a short-term extension of the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) Medicaid demonstration program.

As was announced last week, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation to extend the original eight CCBHC demonstration states through December 2021. The legislation passed the House by a vote of 371-46. Despite tremendous bipartisan support in the House, efforts to extend the original eight states and expand CCBHCs to two new states stalled in the Senate. To provide themselves more time, House and Senate members agreed to a two-week extension, continuing the program through the 4th of July recess.

While we cannot guarantee a path forward beyond this short-term extension, we have every reason to believe that upon its return Congress will pass another continuation of the program through the end of September 2019. As we have throughout this legislative process, the National Council will keep you informed and do its very best to make you aware of opportunities for action and advocacy at every turn.

Thank you all for your outstanding efforts these last few years. Through your hard work and advocacy you have expanded access to individuals in need, transformed how these services can and should be delivered in your communities and built a strong network of allies who believe in the promise of CCBHCs and have worked with us to support their continuation.

**NOTE: OMHSAS/DHS are in the process of confirming the full extent of this announcement and its impact on PA CCBHCs moving forward.

(Source: National Council for Behavioral Health, Capitol Connector, June 20, 2019)

On Tuesday, the House voted to pass the “Empowering Beneficiaries, Ensuring Access, and Strengthening Accountability Act of 2019 (HR 3253),” which would extend funding for certain Medicaid programs. Under the provision, funding for the eight-state Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) demonstration program would be extended for another two and a half years until December 21, 2021. There was overwhelming bipartisan support of HR 3253, passing with a vote of 371-46. The bill must now go to the Senate for a vote before the CCBHC demonstration program expires on June 30, 2019. Read more.

On May 15, Representatives Grace Napolitano (D-CA) and John Katko (R-NY), co-chairs of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus, hosted a very important briefing in Washington, DC as part of Mental Health Awareness Month. This briefing addressed the decarceration of transition age youth with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) and mental disorders. Key presentations outlined the issue, its impact (including impact upon families), and needed solutions.

Rep. Napolitano opened with welcoming remarks, whereby she decried the plight of many children and young adults with disabilities and emphasized the need to move toward community care. Additional information about the briefing can be found here.

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(Source: Buchanan, Ingersoll and Rooney, PC, Daily Health Care Daily Roundup, April 3, 2019)

Following House passage last week, the Senate passed, by voice vote, the Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act of 2019 (H.R. 1839), legislation that includes short-term extensions of several Medicaid programs such as the Money Follows the Person Program – which helps transition individuals with chronic conditions and disabilities from institutions back into their local communities to get care – and the Community Mental Health Services Demonstration Program, which allows community providers to expand access to treatment for mental and behavioral health. Specifically, the bill provides $20 million in additional grant funds for the Money Follows the Person Program and extend the Community Mental Health Services Demonstration Program through June 30, 2019, or for two years, whichever is longer. In addition, the bill:

  • Includes provisions of the Right Rebate Act, which allows the Secretary of Health and Human Services to require drug manufacturers to reclassify their drugs and impose civil monetary penalties when drugs are knowingly misclassified in the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program (MDRP);
  • Increases the number of days (from 90 to 100) that a state may delay payments in Medicaid to providers for medical services provided to a child with a medical support order; and
  • Extends states’ flexibility to disregard individuals’ spousal income and assets when determining eligibility for home and community-based services and supports through September 30, 2019.

Finally, the bill includes provisions of the Advancing Care for Exceptional (ACE) Kids Act that creates a state option to establish health homes for children with medically complex conditions, as well as provide two quarters of enhanced federal matching funds for states’ payments to health homes. The bill now heads to the President for his signature.

Questions, please contact Jack Phillips, Director of Government Affairs.

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By Amy Goldstein, MSN News

A federal judge in Washington threw a significant roadblock into the Trump administration’s efforts to require poor people on Medicaid to be compelled to work in exchange for health benefits, rejecting a Kentucky program for a second time while saying that rules in effect in Arkansas “cannot stand.”

The twinned opinions, in a pair of states that have been national leaders in the move towards Medicaid work requirements, cast doubt on the Trump administration’s approvals of efforts to re-envision the public insurance program. The opinions undo the permission the U.S. Health and Human Services Department had given those two states, telling the agency it must reconsider their applications with an eye towards the effect on poor people who depend on the coverage… Read full article here.