Govt. Affairs

(From DHS)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 3, 2017 

Department of Human Services Hosts Mental Health Awareness Fair
Governor Tom Wolf proclaimed May Mental Health Awareness Month 

Harrisburg, PA – Today, the Department of Human Services (DHS) in collaboration with PA System of Care Partnership, PA Healthy Transitions Partnership, and Youth M.O.V.E. PA, hosted the 2017 Mental Health Awareness Fair in Harrisburg to raise awareness and understanding of mental illness and substance use disorders. Governor Tom Wolf has proclaimed May Mental Health Awareness Month.

“Mental illness and substance use disorders affect Pennsylvanians from all walks of life. Only about half of those people, however, seek treatment,” said DHS Secretary Ted Dallas. “The department is committed to increasing awareness and providing quality care to these individuals so that all Pennsylvanians who need help can get it.”

Representative Mike Schlossberg (D-Lehigh) joined the event to speak about the challenges he has seen in trying to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.

“No person with mental illness should ever feel alone,” said Representative Schlossberg. “Events like these are more important than ever because we have to make sure that everyone who suffers from mental illness has the chance to obtain treatment and live healthy, productive, and happy lives.”

To help individuals gain access to treatment, DHS was recently awarded a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) demonstration grant by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. CCBHCs will enhance access to behavioral health services for Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries, help individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders obtain the health care they need, allow individuals to have access to a wide array of services at one location, and remove the barriers that too often exist across physical and behavioral health systems. CCBHCs are a step closer to ending the stigma associated with mental illness.

Each mental illness has its own set of symptoms but some common signs of mental illness can include the following:

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Difficulties in understanding or relating to other people
  • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired or experiencing low energy
  • Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
  • Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don’t exist in objective reality)
  • Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior, or personality
  • Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
  • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
  • Intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance (mostly in adolescents)

For more information on how to access mental health services, click here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Rachel Kostelac, 717-425-7606

(From DHS)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 3, 2017

 

Harrisburg, PA – Today, the Department of Human Services (DHS) released the 2016 Child Protective Services report. The newly formatted report is available here.

“This year’s revamped report includes all county-specific information in one section, which will improve readability and increase usability,” said DHS Secretary Ted Dallas. “We want to ensure this critical information is available for all Pennsylvanians to increase awareness on the issue and empower people to report suspected abuse or neglect.”

The child welfare system in Pennsylvania is state-supervised and county-administered with both agencies having vital roles in the protection of children. DHS is responsible for oversight and enforcement of laws, regulations, and policies that guide the provision of child welfare services at the county level by each of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania. DHS provides funding, oversight, and technical assistance to each county agency. Additionally, DHS is responsible for the licensure of public and private child welfare agencies and the investigation of complaints received regarding these agencies.

In 2016, 46 children lost their lives as a result of abuse, up from 36 in 2015. Seventy-nine nearly died as a result of abuse, an increase from 57 in 2015. Every child fatality and near fatality is closely examined by review teams to determine what, if any, risk factors may have contributed to the child’s death with an eye toward preventing future child fatalities. Most children who die or nearly die due to abuse are under the age of 4 and their parents are most often responsible for their death or near death. Violent acts or lack of supervision are noted as the leading reasons for these fatalities and near fatalities.

“One case of child abuse or neglect will always be one too many. Increased awareness in the commonwealth is leading to more Pennsylvanians taking active steps for prevention,” said Dallas. “Although reports continue to increase, the incidents of substantiated child abuse reports are approximately the same as last year – 1.7 per 1,000 children versus 1.6 in 2015.”

The report includes both child protective services (CPS) and general protective services (GPS) reports.

CPS reports are those that allege a child might have been a victim of child abuse. Reports alleging that a child under 18 years of age may have been abused are accepted for investigation when reported prior to the victim’s 20th birthday.

  • Girls are abused at a higher rate than boys;
  • Rural counties have a higher substantiation rate than urban counties, 2.6 and 1.6 respectively;
  • Statewide substantiated reports of child abuse remained relatively constant from 1.6 per thousand children in 2015 and 1.7 per thousand children in 2016;
  • Sexual abuse remains the leading category of abuse, followed by physical abuse; and
  • Parents continue to constitute the largest group of persons responsible for abuse of their children.

GPS reports are those reports that do not rise to the level of suspected child abuse, but allege a need for intervention to prevent serious harm to children. The department is responsible for receiving and transmitting reports to county children and youth agencies when GPS concerns are alleged.

  • This is only the second year that we have had detailed data on GPS reports statewide.
  • The number of GPS reports received increased from 2015 to 2016 (141,938 to 151,087).
  • 76,384 reports were assessed involving 113,786 children:
    • 31,649 of those reports were determined to be valid involving 46,525 children;
    • Parental substance abuse was the leading factor involved in these reports;
    • Mothers were most often responsible for these allegations;  and
    • Like CPS reports, rural counties have a higher validation rate than urban counties, 27.6 and 13.9 respectively.
  • 72,865 reports were screened out by county children and youth agencies, and 1,838 were awaiting an outcome at the time the data was pulled.

DHS continues to process child abuse clearance requests in less than six days, and in 2016, more than 943,000 employee and volunteer requests were processed.

The 2016 Child Protective Services report is available here. To report suspected child abuse, call ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313.

MEDIA CONTACT: Rachel Kostelac, 717-425-7606

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RCPA has signed on to a multi-association letter being sent to the PA congressional delegation in Washington, DC urging legislators to carefully evaluate any effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), given the critical need to maintain funding for the current Pennsylvania Medicaid program and to protect the vulnerable citizens who rely on Medicaid for critical and necessary care.

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The Senate Committees on Health and Human Services, Aging and Youth, Intergovernmental Operations, and the Appropriations’ Health and Human Services Subcommittee will hold a hearing to gather testimony on the proposed consolidation of the Departments of Human Services, Health, Aging and Drug & Alcohol. The hearing will take place on Monday, May 1, 2017, from 11:00 am until 3:00 pm at the William Pitt Union Assembly Room on the University of Pittsburgh Campus.

Joint hearings were already held in Harrisburg and Reading. RCPA presented testimony at the Reading hearing on April 13. Please contact Jack Phillips, RCPA Director of Government Affairs, with any questions.

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“RCPA is a member of the National Council and we received this urgent request regarding the ACA.  Whether or not your agency is part of the National Council, we ask that you seriously consider joining this effort.” – Richard S. Edley, RCPA President/CEO
*ACTION ALERT FROM THE NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR BEHAVIORAL HEALTH*

Last night, an amendment to the American Health Care Act was released, providing a concrete sign that Congress is again working on legislation that would gut federal investment in Medicaid and devastate Americans’ mental health and addiction coverage and care.

In addition to restructuring Medicaid and shifting over $800 billion in costs to states, the revised version of the American Health Care Act directly targets provisions that are important to mental health and addiction advocates, including: rolling back essential health benefits, eliminating protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions and widening the gap in primary and behavioral health parity. For millions of individuals, these provisions would mean restricted access to Medicaid, restricted access to affordable coverage and restricted access to lifesaving mental health and addictions treatment.

Please take 2 minutes today and urge your legislators to oppose the revised American Health Care Act. Click here to get started!

Thank you to all National Council advocates who have engaged with us this year. We are asking that you continue to join us in uniting for behavioral health and ensuring that every American has the mental health and addiction care they need.

Sincerely,

Chuck Ingoglia
Senior Vice President, Public Policy and Practice Improvement
National Council for Behavioral Health

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Dear fellow HHS stakeholders:

Yesterday, the Governor’s office published a website for folks to learn more about the Governor’s HHS unification proposal. The site will allow stakeholders to review the draft legislation and see the draft organizational charts. The site also includes a way for the public to provide feedback.

You can view the website here. Questions, contact Jack Phillips, RCPA Director, Government Affairs.

(From OMHSAS)

From: DHS STAKEHOLDERS
On Behalf Of: HS, Secretary’s Office
Sent: Monday, April 10, 2017 2:41 PM
To: DHS Stakeholders
Subject: OMHSAS Leadership

Today I am announcing that Dr. Dale Adair will serve as the Acting Deputy Secretary for the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS). For those of you who have not yet met him, Dale currently serves with distinction as the Chief Medical Officer at OMHSAS and is an essential member of the OMHSAS executive team.

Dale’s nearly 30 years of experience in all levels of state government and his leadership experience will be invaluable as we move forward during this difficult time and begin the process of selecting our next Deputy Secretary. I have complete confidence that Dale will make the transition to a new Deputy Secretary as smooth as possible and that the critical work that OMHSAS does every day continues without interruption.

I would personally like to thank Dale for stepping up into this role, your leadership is needed now more than ever at DHS.

Please join me in welcoming Dale to this new role and working with him so that we can ensure that services continue for the vulnerable Pennsylvanians that OMHSAS serves.

Ted

With regret, RCPA has learned of the passing of OMHSAS Deputy Secretary Dennis Marion. Our sincere condolences go out to Mr. Marion’s family and colleagues. Here is the announcement from the State:

(From OMHSAS)

From: “HS, Secretary’s Office”
Date: March 30, 2017 at 11:35:55 AM EDT
To: “DHS-STAKEHOLDERS”
Subject: [DHS-STAKEHOLDERS] Dennis Marion

I am writing today with great sadness to let you know of the passing of our colleague and dear friend, Dennis Marion. Dennis served admirably as the Deputy Secretary for the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and all of us throughout the Department are feeling this tremendous loss.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Marion family and especially his wife Camille during this difficult time. I feel honored to have been able to call Dennis a friend and will miss him terribly. He was a great colleague, husband, and father and will be missed by us all.

Thank you all for the messages of condolences that we have already received. The outpouring of sympathy is a testament to Dennis and the passion that he had for his work and his family.

Ted

(From ONDCP)

Washington, DC – Yesterday, the Trump Administration designated Richard Baum to serve as Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy until a permanent director is nominated and confirmed by the Senate.

Acting Director Baum has served in a variety of roles at the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) for two decades and through four presidential administrations. He has a broad range of experience on domestic and international drug control policy issues, including leading the development of key strategic documents such as the National Drug Control Strategy. Most recently, as Chief of the International Division at ONDCP, he was a part of the United States Delegation to the meeting of the United Nations’ Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, Austria.

Acting Director Baum is replacing Kemp Chester, who was appointed as Acting Director on Inauguration Day. During his tenure, Acting Director Chester advanced the Administration’s drug policy priorities, which include promoting prevention and treatment for substance abuse while stopping the trafficking of illicit drugs. Mr. Chester, a retired Colonel in the US Army, will return to his previous role as the Associate Director for the National Heroin Coordination Group at ONDCP, which leads the US Government’s response to the threat of illicit opioids.

“I am deeply honored to have been designated by President Trump to serve as Acting Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy,” Mr. Baum said. “In my two decades of service at ONDCP, I’ve seen the heart-breaking suffering caused by illegal drugs, as well as the incredible work of dedicated individuals working to address drug abuse and its consequences. I look forward to continuing that work.”

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The following bills were voted out of the House and will now move to the Senate for their consideration.

 

HB 126

 
 

Baker, Matt

(PN 92) The Epinephrine Auto-Injector Entity Act provides for the use and stock of epinephrine auto-injectors by recreation camps, colleges and universities, day-care facilities, youth sports leagues, amusement parks, restaurants, places of employment, and sports arenas. Requires completed training by employees of eligible institutions before administration and provides Good Samaritan protections. Effective in 60 days.

HB 126 passed unanimously on Wednesday, March 22 by a vote of 191 YEAS, 0 NAYS.

HB 478 Pickett, Tina (PN 502) The Outpatient Psychiatric Oversight Act requires an outpatient psychiatric clinic to have a psychiatrist on site for two hours of psychiatric time per week for each fulltime equivalent treatment staff member employed by the clinic. Further provides telepsychiatry provided by a psychiatrist that is not on site with prescriptive authority in Pennsylvania may be utilized with a service description approved by the Department of Human Services but shall not be included in the required psychiatric time. Also provides that 50 percent of the required on-site time may be provided by other advanced practice professionals specializing in behavioral health with prescriptive authority in Pennsylvania. Requires the Department of Human Services to promulgate regulations as necessary to carry out the provisions of the act. Effective in 60 days.

HB 478 passed unanimously on Wednesday, March 22 by a vote of 190 YEAS, 0 NAYS.  RCPA already has a meeting with Senate Health and Human Services Committee staff on Friday, March 31 to discuss moving this bill out of committee.

HB 644 Baker, Matt (PN 681) Amends the Community-Based Health Care Act, in health care assistance, further providing for Community-Based Health Care Program by removing the 25 percent limitation on grants awarded going to federally qualified health centers. Effective in 60 days.

HB 644 passed unanimously on Wednesday, March 22 by a vote of 190 YEAS, 0 NAYS.

HR 63 Costa, Dom (PN 297) Resolution recognizing April 2, 2017, as “World Autism Awareness Day” in Pennsylvania.

HR 63 passed unanimously on Wednesday, March 22 by a vote of 195 YEAS, 0 NAYS.

HR 132 Toohil, Tarah (PN 825) Resolution recognizing the month of March 2017 as “Intellectual Disability Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania.

HR 132 passed unanimously on Wednesday, March 22 by a vote of 195 YEAS, 0 NAYS. The State Senate did not vote on any bills that RCPA has on its legislative tracking report. Questions, contact Jack Phillips, RCPA Director, Government Affairs.