Govt. Affairs

On Saturday, October 3, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin its final rule regarding overtime pay under the Minimum Wage Act. The entire rule can be found on the Pennsylvania Bulletin’s website. The new rule will be effective January 1, 2021.

The highlights of L&I’s final rule are as follows:

  • Raises the salary threshold.
  • Automatic increases in 2021, 2022 and 2023 and every three years thereafter (i.e. after 2023 the next increase will occur in 2026).
  • The employee still must meet both the salary test and the duties test to qualify as exempt.

If you recall, the Federal Department of Labor published its final rule on Friday, September 27, 2019.  The Federal rule:

  • raises the salary threshold from the current $23,660 ($455/week) to $35,568 ($684/week);
  • was effective January 1, 2020;
  • includes no automatic updates or changes to the duties test; and
  • allow nondiscretionary bonuses, incentive payments, and commissions to satisfy up to 10 percent of the salary requirement.

RCPA is continuing to work with the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry and others to work on other options to counter the Governor’s new rule. RCPA and its coalition members are disappointed that the Governor has taken this step during the pandemic when health and human service providers and businesses are struggling to keep their doors open.

Questions, please contact Jack Phillips, RCPA’s Director of Government Affairs.

Workforce Development is excited to announce a total redesign of the public-facing PA CareerLink® pages. Changes are being implemented on October 9, 2020, to meet the workforce’s current and future business needs. The redesign meets specific requests from the Governor’s Advisory board to enhance and modernize the consumer experience by focusing on accessibility, facilitating a human-centered design approach, and tailoring information to target audiences.

What’s new with PA CareerLink®?

The redesign includes 10 brand new pages. Individual job seeker services will now be tailored on six new Persona pages for Veterans, Individuals with Disabilities, Mature Workers, Job Seekers, Student and Youth Workers, and Individuals Re-entering the Workforce. Four new Office Pages have also been designed to increase awareness and make resources more accessible for 57 PA CareerLink® offices across the Commonwealth. Job seekers and employers can now view available services, events, and career opportunities specific to their local area. All four PA CareerLink® Homepages have been updated to showcase the available services for Individuals, Training Providers, and Employers using a new brand-compliant theme and imagery.

The redesigned PA CareerLink® pages will provide:

  • Increased visibility into publicly available resources for job seekers
  • Persona-based approach to connecting consumers with services
  • Simplified process for job search and PA CareerLink® account registration
  • Increased visibility of office information on standardized Office pages

PA CareerLink® offices will now have their own pages in a standardized format. The office pages will be easy to locate using the new “Find Your Local Office Footer” accessible on all PA CareerLink® public-facing pages. Users will simply choose their county and be directed to the new office page. The office page will outline the available services to employers and individuals, provide a calendar of events specific to the office, highlight the top ten occupations in the area, and provide contact information for that area’s workforce development board.

What’s Next?

Go-live of the redesigned and new PA CareerLink® pages is on October 9, 2020. You can check out the short training video located here which provides a deeper review of the redesigned PA CareerLink®.

The Administration for Community Living sent this message to kick off this month of recognition of the value of people with disabilities in the workforce:

“Today we celebrate the start of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) and recognize the often overlooked talents that people with disabilities bring to the workforce.  This is a year of milestone anniversaries for the disability community as we celebrate 30 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act and 75 years of NDEAM. This year’s NDEAM theme, “increasing access and opportunity,” reflects the impact of these two milestones.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy offers a range of resources to help employers and organizations plan NDEAM observances, including a poster; social media content; activity ideas for each day of the month; and sample articles, press release, and proclamation.  We hope you will take advantage of these resources and join us in celebrating the importance of competitive, integrated employment in the lives of people with disabilities.”

 

Office of the Governor PA WebsiteFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 2, 2020

View Online

Harrisburg, PA – Amid the pandemic, rising health care costs and magnified health inequities, Governor Tom Wolf today unveiled a plan that addresses comprehensive health reforms focusing on both physical and behavioral health and promoting affordability, accessibility and value in health care.

I am proposing a health reform package that will make health care more affordable, hold health care corporations accountable and tackle the health inequities resulting from systemic racism,” Gov. Wolf said. “True reform means focusing on every aspect of a person that contributes to their health. Even before the pandemic, there were warning signs that Pennsylvania’s health care system wasn’t working for everyone. Many Pennsylvanians found it hard to pay their medical bills due to rising health care costs, including families who have health care coverage and often have to pay higher premiums and more out-of-pocket costs every year.”

Health care access has historically been more difficult for many, and because of the pandemic, affordability is expected to become a crisis, with more than 1.5 million Pennsylvanians expected to become uninsured.

COVID-19 has also worsened the pre-existing inequities that some disadvantaged neighborhoods face, disproportionately hurting Pennsylvanians of color.

Chief Innovation Officer at the Department of Human Services, Dr. Doug Jacobs, outlined the components of the health reform plan and how they will address these issues.

“As a board-certified and practicing internal medicine physician, I see first-hand how affordability and a whole-person approach to care is so crucial to helping Pennsylvanians access the health care they deserve,” Dr. Jacobs said. “Governor Wolf is proposing a whole-person health reform package that will make comprehensive, quality health care more affordable and accessible.”

The three main components of the plan include:

  • Interagency Health Reform Council (IHRC), established with an executive order the governor signed at the press conference today. The council will be composed of commonwealth agencies involved in health and the governor’s office. The initial goal will be to develop recommendations by December 30 to find efficiencies in the health care system by thinking about how to align programs where feasible, including the joint purchasing of medications, aligning value-based purchasing models, and using data across state agencies to promote evidence-based decisions.
  • Regional Accountable Health Councils (RAHCs). The Department of Human Services will add requirements to form five RAHCs across the state into the managed care agreements. RAHCs will be required to collectively develop regional transformation plans – built on community needs assessments – to reduce disparities, address social determinants of health, and align value-based purchasing arrangements.
  • Health Value Commission. The governor will work with the legislature to establish the Health Value Commission, charged with keeping all payors and providers accountable for health care cost growth, to provide the long-term affordability and sustainability of our health care system, and to promote whole-person care. As proposed, the newly created entity would be led by up to 15 commissioners appointed by the governor and the General Assembly who have an expertise in the health care marketplace, including five state agency heads.

Gov. Wolf and Dr. Jacobs were joined at the announcement by Pennsylvania Health Access Network director Antoinette Kraus, home health care aide Hillary Rothrock, and Little Amps owner Peter Leonard.

“Far too many Pennsylvanians put off care or skip tests and treatment because of what’s in their wallets rather than what’s best for their health,” Antoinette Kraus said. “Without reforms that directly address high and rising healthcare costs, families will continue to struggle with getting the care they need without facing financial ruin, and health disparities will also widen. We applaud Governor Wolf for addressing these issues by introducing reforms that will increase transparency, improve health equity, and lower costs.”

“Little Amps has long been striving to find a way to provide high quality health care coverage to our team – my peers in the small business community know just how difficult this can be despite how essential it is to our collective wellbeing,” Peter Leonard said. “It simply is not affordable, and that is unacceptable. We support Governor Wolf’s Whole-Person Health Reform proposal because of its ability to decrease costs and make healthcare more affordable for small businesses like ours.”

“I’m grateful to Governor Wolf for introducing the Whole-Person Health Reform initiative,” Hillary Rothrock said. “So many of us in health care want desperately to provide everything we can for our consumers, but we aren’t given the resources we need. Finding cost savings that can be redirected toward direct care is critically needed.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many of the challenges that our commonwealth faced prior to this year,” Gov. Wolf said. “We are more aware now of how precarious many systems we all took for granted are, and how the inequities that exist in those systems harm some of our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians. We need to take these actions now to make sure that health care is affordable and accessible for every Pennsylvanian, and to guarantee that the care Pennsylvanians receive is valuable and of high quality.”

MEDIA CONTACT:    Lyndsay Kensinger, ra-gvgovpress@pa.gov

On September 30, the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee (of the Energy & Commerce (E&C) Committee) held a virtual hearing (Pathway to a Vaccine: Ensuring a Safe and Effective Vaccine People Will Trust) with public health experts on the continued oversight of the development and safety of potential COVID-19 vaccines. Key witnesses from the hearing included:

  • Helene Gayle, M.D., M.P.H., Co-Chair, Committee on Equitable Allocation of Vaccine for the Novel Coronavirus, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
  • Ashish K. Jha, Dean, M.D., M.P.H., Dean, School of Public Health, Brown University
  • Ali S. Kahn, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., Dean, College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center
  • Mark McClellan, M.D., Ph.D., Founding Director, Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, Duke University
  • Paul A. Offit, M.D., Director, Vaccine Education Center, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

 

The E&C website contains the videos from the hearing. The key takeaways from the hearing include:

  • There are many safeguards in place for a COVID-19 vaccine approval process;
  • All the guardrails in place should make it difficult to politicize the COVID-19 vaccine approval process;
  • The emergency use authorization process is similar to full approval;
  • Unlike Russia and China, the United States is only going to approve or authorize COVID-19 vaccines with large phase 3 clinical trials that meet high safety and efficacy standards;
  • No corners are being cut; and
  • States are not able to replicate FDA’s gold standard of vaccine review.

 

From ANCOR:

Big news from HHS….and welcome news, considering the uncertain future of the 4th package negotiations between the House, the Senate and the Administration.  See the highlighted sections below, but at first read, our members are eligible.  (Note:  the Medicaid only tranche was considered part of the Phase 2 General Distribution).

We will continue to dig into the details and also analyzing the reporting requirements that came out recently!

Statement from HHS: 
Today, under the leadership of President Trump, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), is announcing $20 billion in new funding for providers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. Under this Phase 3 General Distribution allocation, providers that have already received Provider Relief Fund payments will be invited to apply for additional funding that considers financial losses and changes in operating expenses caused by the coronavirus. Previously ineligible providers, such as those who began practicing in 2020 will also be invited to apply, and an expanded group of behavioral health providers confronting the emergence of increased mental health and substance use issues exacerbated by the pandemic will also be eligible for relief payments.

Providers can begin applying for funds on Monday, October 5, 2020.

“HHS has worked to ensure that all American healthcare providers receive support from the Provider Relief Fund in a fast and fair way, and this new round helps ensure that we are reaching America’s essential behavioral health providers and takes into account losses and expenses relating to coronavirus,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “We’ve worked with all of the resources we have across HHS to ensure that America’s heroic healthcare providers know they can apply for support.”

HHS has already issued over $100 billion in relief funding to providers through prior distributions. Still, HHS recognizes that many providers continue to struggle financially from COVID-19’s impact. For eligible providers, the new Phase 3 General Distribution is designed to balance an equitable payment of 2 percent of annual revenue from patient care for all applicants plus an add-on payment to account for revenue losses and expenses attributable to COVID-19.

Further, HHS recognizes constraints such as the stay-at-home orders and social isolation have been particularly difficult for many Americans. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report found the prevalence of symptoms of anxiety disorder in the second quarter of 2020 was approximately three times those that reported in the second quarter of 2019 (25.5% versus 8.1%); and the prevalence of depressive disorder was approximately four times that reported in the second quarter of 2019 (24.3% versus 6.5%). Our behavioral health providers have shouldered the burden of responding and confronting this expanded challenge triggered by the pandemic. When traditional face-to-face counseling was restricted and new telehealth flexibilities were put in place in response to the pandemic, many behavioral health providers invested in and adopted – PDF telehealth technologies to continue providing patient care. While some Medicare or Medicaid behavioral health providers have already received prior General Distribution payments, others have not. Working with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), HRSA developed a list of the nation’s behavioral health providers now eligible for funding, which includes, for example, addiction counseling centers, mental health counselors, and psychiatrists.

Eligibility

HHS is making a large number of providers eligible for Phase 3 General Distribution funding, including:

  • Providers who previously received, rejected or accepted a General Distribution Provider Relief Fund payment. Providers that have already received payments of approximately 2% of annual revenue from patient care may submit more information to become eligible for an additional payment.
  • Behavioral Health providers, including those that previously received funding and new providers.
  • Healthcare providers that began practicing January 1, 2020 through March 31, 2020. This includes Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, dentists, assisted living facilities and behavioral health providers.

Payment Methodology – Apply Early

All eligible providers will be considered for payment against the below criteria.

  1. All provider submissions will be reviewed to confirm they have received a Provider Relief Fund payment equal to approximately 2 percent of patient care revenue from prior general distributions. Applicants that have not yet received Relief Fund payments of 2 percent of patient revenue will receive a payment that, when combined with prior payments (if any), equals 2 percent of patient care revenue.
  2. With the remaining balance of the $20 billion budget, HRSA will then calculate an equitable add-on payment that considers the following:
    • A provider’s change in operating revenues from patient care
    • A provider’s change in operating expenses from patient care, including expenses incurred related to coronavirus
    • Payments already received through prior Provider Relief Fund distributions.

We know providers want to receive payments shortly after submitting their information. However, this distribution requires cooperation on the part of all applicants. Again, HHS is urging all eligible providers to apply early; do not wait until the last day or week of the application period. Applying early will help to expedite HHS’s review process and payment calculations, and ultimately accelerate the distribution of all payments.

All payment recipients will be required to attest to receiving the Phase 3 General Distribution payment and accept the associated Terms and Conditions.

Application Deadline

Providers will have from October 5, 2020 through November 6, 2020 to apply for Phase 3 General Distribution funding. HHS’s top priority is ensuring as many providers possible have an opportunity to apply. HHS will continue to host webinars to assist providers through the application process and the call center is also available to address questions.

HHS recognizes the multifaceted challenges of this pandemic cannot be won without frontline healthcare providers focused on containing the virus and delivering holistic care. Funding for this Phase 3 General Distribution was made possible through the bipartisan CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, which allocated $175 billion in relief funds to hospitals and other healthcare providers.

For updates and to learn more about the Provider Relief Program.
——————————
Shannon McCracken
Vice President of Government Relations
ANCOR
606.271.3555
smccracken@ancor.org
——————————

Advancing Substance Use Prevention in HIDTA Communities | Thursday, October 8, 2020

The Advancing Substance Use Prevention in HIDTA Communities virtual summit has the following goals:

  • Discuss advances in substance use prevention policy and strategies over the last five years in the context of national substance threats.
  • Describe evidence-based practices, programs, and strategies for substance use prevention led by public safety and public health partnerships.
  • Describe critical insights into implementing substance use prevention practices, programs, and strategies.
  • Compare different methods for measuring the impact and value of prevention programs.
  • Identify national, state, and local prevention resources available to all HIDTA communities.

 Review the agenda and event flyer, and register today.

 

Naloxone Distribution Strategies Webinar Recording

Offered for Centralized Coordinating Entities (CCEs) and their partners, this webinar recording showcases real-world examples of community-based initiatives used by CCEs across Pennsylvania to increase availability of naloxone and prevent overdose deaths. Panelists also discuss how they have adjusted their naloxone distribution efforts in light of COVID-19.  Learn more about PCCD’s Naloxone for First Responders Program.