Govt. Affairs

Last week, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), together with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), introduced S. 1604, Transition to Independence Medicaid Buy-In Option, bipartisan legislation which would, as stated in Senator Grassley’s press release, “create a demonstration project to encourage states to improve opportunities for individuals with disabilities to obtain employment in the community, gaining self-determination, independence, productivity, and integration and inclusion.”  Ten states, over a period of five years, would receive bonus payments for meeting benchmarks which are outlined in the bill’s technical summary. We will continue to monitor and set up applicable meetings. Contact Jack Phillips, RCPA Director of Government Affairs with questions.

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As of today, it appears that budget talks between the Governor and the General Assembly have stalled. Republican legislative leaders say they are ready to start moving a budget this weekend to approve before the fiscal year ends.

The Republicans in the House and Senate continue to look at pensions and privatizing/modernizing the state liquor store system for revenue. The governor is still looking for property tax reform, possible personal income tax increases, and an extraction tax.

Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati has indicated that the Republican budget would not contain a tax increase and more details will emerge as the budget moves forward. The Republican budget bill would rely on revenue from liquor privatization, and savings from public pension reform, but the proposed budget would not reduce the amount the state contributes to the pension systems. Republicans might also be looking at new recurring revenue by changing how the Commonwealth levies a Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) on Medicaid Managed Care Organizations. The Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has told Pennsylvania the way the Commonwealth levies the GRT is inconsistent with applicable federal statutory and regulatory requirements. The Commonwealth was given until November 30, 2016, to make the necessary changes to its GRT.

Some additional details of the proposed Republican budget include: no additional dollars to the wait list or the county human block grant program. Please do not panic! While the Republicans will pass a budget by June 30, it has come to our attention that the governor is planning to veto the entire Republican budget. If the governor holds onto this veto pledge, then there will be a late state budget. The governor and Republican leadership will have to go back to the negotiation table to find common ground, because Republicans do not have the required votes to override the governor’s veto. During that negotiation process, RCPA will continue to meet with elected officials to advocate for additional human service funding.

RCPA will continue to update the membership regarding the ongoing budget negotiations. We ask you, your employees, and the families that you serve to contact your legislators and the governor to tell them it is imperative to fully fund human service programs and to pass an on time budget, and if they do not, how it will affect your business and the services you provide to residents of the Commonwealth. When communicating with elected officials, please use the RCPA policy papers regarding RCPA budget priorities and the effects of a late state budget.

Contact Jack Phillips, RCPA Director of Government Affairs, with questions.

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As of today, budget talks are still ongoing. The General Assembly is looking at pensions, online gaming, and privatizing/modernizing the state liquor store system for revenue. The governor is still looking for property tax reform, possible personal income tax increases, and an extraction tax. If the governor and the General Assembly cannot come to an agreement, the General Assembly has indicated that they will pass and send the governor an on-time budget by the June 30 deadline.

If this occurs, one of two things can happen. One, the governor signs the budget bill on time and the General Assembly will go home for the summer, or two, the governor receives the bill and within ten days he may to decide to sign the bill, line item veto parts of the bill, or veto the bill entirely. If the governor decides to use his veto power, then there will be a late budget and the governor and General Assembly will go back to the negotiation table.

In a late budget scenario, our providers will not be able to plan effectively. Member providers may not have sufficient cash balances to provide services to clients, pay staff, and to pay day-to-day expenses. In most instances, when there are state funding delays, providers have to draw against their lines of credit. In today’s tough economic environment, providers are not as financially strong as they were the last time the Commonwealth had a late state budget, so providers will have more difficulties staying solvent.

RCPA is asking members to use the RCPA policy paper and contact your legislators and the governor to tell them it is imperative to pass an on time budget, and if they do not, how it will affect your business and the services you provide to residents of the Commonwealth.

Questions? Contact Jack Phillips, RCPA director of government affairs.

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National behavioral health legislative activities: – National Council for Behavioral Health


Pennsylvania state legislative affairs: – Pennsylvania General Assembly; legislation; bill histories – Pennsylvania House of Representatives (Republicans) – Pennsylvania House of Representatives (Democrats) – Democratic Caucus – Republican Caucus


Pennsylvania’s Office of Governor and state agencies: – Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Home Page – Pennsylvania Department of Human Services – Pennsylvania Department of Health – Pennsylvania Department of Aging – Pennsylvania Department of Insurance – Pennsylvania State Code (no statutes or acts) – The Pennsylvania Bulletin (weekly publication regarding rulemaking)


Pennsylvania’s statewide elected officials: – Pennsylvania’s Office of Attorney General – Pennsylvania’s Office of Auditor General – Pennsylvania’s Office of Treasurer


Other states’ homepages and related activities: – listing of information for each of the 50 states, including individual state home pages – links to elected officials in Pennsylvania supplied by the League of Women Voters


Federal legislation and agencies: – US Department of Health and Human Services – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services) – accessibility to federal legislation; the Executive Branch; other states’ information – information regarding the President, Executive Offices, etc. – accessibility to federal legislation


Media information: – Pennsylvania Cable Network (Pennsylvania public affairs) – Pennsylvania Newspaper Association (links to all newspapers available online) – American Broadcasting Company – Cable News Network – Microsoft/National Broadcasting Company – Fox News Company – The New York Times newspaper – The Washington Post newspaper – The Harrisburg Patriot newspaper and other PA papers

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On April 14, RCPA held its annual Capitol Day.  Many RCPA members met with their elected officials and staff during their day at the Capitol. In order to deliver a cohesive, unified message, it is crucial that members communicate with RCPA Director of Government Affairs, Jack Phillips. If the meeting you had with a legislator requires follow-up with either the legislator or staff, or if you simply had a successful meeting, please inform RCPA.

Additionally, RCPA will be implementing a Key Contact Program, which will become the cornerstone of RCPA advocacy. Whether you already have a relationship with a current Member of the General Assembly, or would like to develop a relationship with your State Senator or Representative, RCPA will provide the support needed to cultivate that relationship. RCPA’s success in Harrisburg is dependent on our ability to communicate our message about RCPA priorities to members of the State General Assembly. The involvement of RCPA members who serve as key contacts for their legislators will be a vital part of this process.

As a key contact, you will serve as RCPA liaison with a member(s) of the State General Assembly; RCPA will provide you with the tools necessary to develop and maintain these relationships. You will also receive periodic updates on RCPA legislative priorities, and positions on issues pending before the General Assembly, allowing you to keep your contacts informed and become a resource to their offices on health and human services issues.

RCPA also asks that you consider becoming a District Team Leader. With the assistance of RCPA staff, your primary responsibility will be coordinating advocacy activities with other RCPA key contact members in your district, such as attendance at town hall meetings, or a group appointment with an elected official in his/her district office to discuss RCPA legislative priorities. If you are interested in this important advocacy position, please email our Director of Government Affairs, Jack Phillips.

RCPA advocacy efforts are only as strong as the efforts of each RCPA member; the secret to advocacy success is key contacts. It is up to each of you to make a personal commitment to advocacy and build the legislative connections that count! Your commitment to the Key Contact Program will strengthen RCPA’s voice and influence with the State General Assembly.