Govt. Affairs

Press Release from Governor Tom Wolf

Council on Reform Submits Recommendations for the Protection of Vulnerable Populations to Gov. Wolf
> Public Comment Period through December 16, 2019 <

November 1, 2019

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Tom Wolf’s Council on Reform, established through his Protection of Vulnerable Populations Executive Order 2019-05, submitted its recommendations for improving the state’s systems to protect its most vulnerable individuals and families.

In late July, Gov. Wolf charged this diverse group of community leaders, providers, stakeholders, and cabinet members with taking a comprehensive look at needs to best serve the state’s vulnerable populations with a mandate to report those recommendations back to him by Nov. 1.

“I took action in July to address long-standing issues with the state’s systems designed to protect our most vulnerable,” Gov. Wolf said. “The first task for the newly formed Council on Reform was to buckle down and develop a comprehensive list of recommendations for how we can best protect vulnerable Pennsylvanians.

“My thanks to all of the council members who shared their expertise and considerable time, and to those who participated by meeting with council members or submitting information and recommendations. Your tireless commitment to this process demonstrates your passion for protecting all Pennsylvanians, especially our most vulnerable. I look forward to reading and analyzing these recommendations and to our next steps to make much-needed changes.”

The 25-member council held its first meeting immediately following the governor’s announcement. In determining its charter and scope, the council defined populations and subpopulations, established committees, and adopted values.

The council determined it would look at protecting vulnerable populations from three perspectives with a separate committee for each: prevention and diversion, protection and intervention, and justice and support.

Populations were broken out by age with subpopulations to ensure vulnerabilities unique to each were considered:

Ages 0-17
Subpopulations – African Americans, Asian American & Pacific Islanders, Latinos, LGBTQ+ children, young women, children experiencing mental illness, children with intellectual disabilities/autism, children with physical/sensory disabilities, delinquent children, and dependent children

Ages 18-59
Subpopulations – African Americans, Asian American & Pacific Islanders, Latinos, LGBTQ+ adults, veterans, women, adults experiencing mental illness, adults with intellectual disabilities/autism, adults with physical/sensory disabilities, adults with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, and domestic violence victims

Ages 60+
Subpopulations – African Americans, Asian American & Pacific Islanders, Latinos, LGBTQ+ seniors, women, veterans, seniors experiencing mental illness, seniors with intellectual disabilities/autism, seniors with physical/sensory disabilities, seniors with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, and domestic violence victims

The council recommended two overarching goals for Pennsylvania to better protect vulnerable populations:
• Empower and strengthen the workforce serving vulnerable populations by providing comprehensive training, livable salaries and benefits, and support for staff experiencing vicarious trauma.

  • Empower communities and vulnerable populations by ensuring access to services for all Pennsylvanians and conducting culturally appropriate and diverse outreach efforts.

The council adopted values they believe to be relevant to protecting and serving vulnerable populations – these values are reflected throughout the recommendations:

Cultural Competence – Recognizing and honoring diversity

Person-Centered Approach – Focusing on the individual’s best interest

Community Engagement – Hearing from vulnerable populations, families, experts, and stakeholders

Context & Awareness – Understanding current environment and avoiding past failings

Trauma-Informed – Utilizing trauma-informed approaches across all systems

Workforce Empowerment – Ensuring the workforce is equipped and supported

Members heard from a wide array of existing oversight and advisory bodies, stakeholders, legislators, and constituents. Information was provided through in-person meetings, letters, emails, and a webform that council members distributed to their networks. These contributors provide recommendations for the council to consider and essential insight and context to ensure the council was fully informed. Many council members also served on advisory bodies connected to this work.

The council compiled the recommendations submitted by others along with recommendations from existing reports and assigned them to the appropriate committee for review and consideration. Committee members reviewed all that was submitted, identified common trends, eliminated duplication, and developed new recommendations.

After committees finalized their lists of recommendations, themes were identified that spanned all populations and committees. The result is the comprehensive list of recommendations presented to Gov. Wolf today.

The council advised Gov. Wolf that it “fully recognizes the funding implications of the recommendations that have been developed and the substantial amount of time and work it takes to carry out these recommendations. It is our hope that Pennsylvania will rise to the occasion and put its best effort into driving this much needed change – our most vulnerable are counting on it.”

The council asked that the governor direct the appropriate agencies, organizations, branches of government, and advisory bodies to carry out the recommendations he would like to move forward.

As the council carried out its process, they believed more could be done to engage with constituents. To achieve this, the council added an online public comment form available today through Dec. 16.

View press release online

The Department of Human Services, Bureau of Procurement and Contracts Management has released the Request for Application (RFA) for Managed Care Organizations to provide physical health services in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the five HealthChoices zones. These zones include the Southeast, Southwest, Lehigh/Capital, Northeast, and Northwest.

The RFA can be found here. Appendix A of the agreement can be viewed here. Contact Sarah Eyster, RCPA Mental Health Division Director, with questions.

Hundreds of families and individuals with intellectual disabilities, along with dozens of human service providers from across the Commonwealth, rallied at the State Capitol today to urge the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) and its Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) to reverse course on policies that are putting at risk the very programs these individuals rely on daily for support and assistance.

  • View the rally agenda here.
  • View the photo album (Facebook) here.

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Late yesterday, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) delivered its final rule to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) regarding overtime pay under the Minimum Wage Act. According to IRRC’s website, a public hearing on the final rule will be held on Thursday, November 21st.
The highlights of L&I’s final rule are as follows:

  • Raises the salary threshold to $875 per week ($45,500 annually) – an over 92% increase over the current $455 per week ($23,660) – and there is an automatic escalator
  • The employee still must meet both the salary test and the duties test to qualify as exempt.

All documents concerning L&I’s final Overtime Rule can be found below.

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

  • 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
  • Allow non-discretionary bonuses, incentive payments and commissions to satisfy up to 10 percent of the salary requirement

According to the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry (PA Chamber), Pennsylvania employers generally accept the Federal Department of labor’s final overtime rule as a reasonable update to overtime regulations and employers are unlikely to challenge the Federal final rule.

At a minimum, RCPA will be recommending that L&I’s rule should mirror the Federal rule, so it easier for businesses to comply with this requirement. RCPA will be working with the PA Chamber and other businesses on this issue.

In the meantime, please send me your initial thoughts/concerns by close of business on Monday, October 21st, because State House Leadership and Chairman Cox of the House Labor Committee would like to know what objections our members have about L&I’s final rule.

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

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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.

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Yesterday, Senator Vogel introduced SB 857 – The Telemedicine Act. The Telemedicine Act authorizes the practice of telemedicine by health care providers. It requires each licensure board to promulgate regulations within 24 months of the effective date and provides for the publishing of temporary regulations within 60 days. The bill further provides for evaluation and treatment, insurance coverage, and Medicaid program reimbursement. The provisions regarding insurance coverage and Medicaid program reimbursement shall take effect in 90 days and the remainder shall take effect immediately.

As you may recall, Senator Vogel had a similar bill pass the Senate last legislative session but it died in the House. SB 857 has been listed as a legislative fall priority for both the House and Senate. Please take the time to review the legislation, and provide any feedback to Jack Phillips, RCPA’s Director of Government Affairs.

RCPA would like to congratulate Jonathan Rubin and Amy Grippi on their new positions with the Department of Human Services. We look forward to collaborating in the future, to continue improving the quality of life for our children across the Commonwealth.


(From DHS Secretary Teresa Miller)

DHS Staffing Update

I am excited to announce that Jonathan (Jon) Rubin will join the Department of Human Services as the Office of Children, Youth, and Families’ Deputy Secretary. Jon has led Bucks County’s Housing and Human Services division since 2014, overseeing the county’s child welfare agency, behavioral and developmental health programs, drug and alcohol services, mental health and developmental programs, housing services, and Area Agency on Aging.  As director, Jon has focused on creating a more integrated approach to Housing and Human Services’ work, encouraging two-generation, whole-family focuses and facilitating public-private partnerships and generative program development.

Jon started his career spending 15 years with the Bucks County Children & Youth Social Services agency, beginning as a social worker and eventually serving four years as a child protective services manager. He has also worked to strengthen the child welfare system on a state level, working at the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center, providing technical assistance and training to children and youth agencies around Pennsylvania, and later with Deloitte as a senior consultant and child welfare subject matter expert, helping implement the Child Welfare Information Solution project. Jon has also worked at the national level supporting child welfare systems across the country when he served as an Organizational Effectiveness Consultant for the American Public Human Services Association.

Jon will join DHS on November 4. At that point, Amy Grippi will transition into a new role, Child Services Executive Director, in the Secretary’s Office. This role will focus on synthesizing initiatives and priorities around child services and create a stronger bridge between OCYF and the Office of Child Development and Early Learning. Amy will be focused on strengthening services provided to children around Pennsylvania, including our work to implement the enterprise case management system and Family First, increasing the incorporation of predictive analytics and trend analyses through improved data collection, and other initiatives.

I think this new role will be an invaluable asset to help enhance and support the work done at DHS and at the county level, and I know Amy’s skills and experience will help us do more to support children and families around Pennsylvania.

I want to thank Amy for her tireless work and leadership as OCYF’s Acting Deputy Secretary over the last few months, and I am so excited to welcome Jon to the agency. I look forward to seeing the good work that DHS and OCYF will accomplish as we move forward.

Thank you,
Secretary Teresa Miller

Composite of Calendar Pages and Clock

(From DHS)

08/27/2019

DHS Announces Time, Venue Changes for Polk, White Haven State Center Public Hearings

Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Human Services (DHS) today announced changes to the times and locations for the public hearings on the planned closure of Polk and White Haven State Centers.

“We heard the concerns from families, legislators, and stakeholders about time of day and location for the hearings, and we want as many interested people as possible to be able to attend these hearings,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “We are committed to hearing from the community, and these hearings will give affected individuals, advocates, and stakeholders to the opportunity to formally raise concerns and share their perspectives to inform the transition process.”

Under Act 3 of 1999, DHS is required to hold public hearings within 30 days of announcing plans to close a facility for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Comments offered at these hearings will guide DHS during the transition process and help DHS understand resources and options that will need to be available to residents and families during the transition.

The hearings are now scheduled for:

·  Polk State Center – Monday, September 9, 5 p.m. – Atlantic Avenue Church, 160 Atlantic Ave., Franklin, PA – updated start time

·   White Haven State Center – Thursday, September 12, 5 p.m. – St. Patrick’s Church, 411 Allegheny St, White Haven, PA 18661 – updated start time and location

A toll-free hotline has been established for family members of Polk and White Haven residents who have questions during the closure process. Family members will be able to speak with staff from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday by calling 1.888.565.9435 or by email at RA-PWRAStateCenters@pa.gov.

For more information regarding services for people with intellectual disabilities and the closures, visit www.dhs.pa.gov.

MEDIA CONTACT: Erin James – 717-425-7606

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