Articles of Interest

Note from RCPA President and CEO Richard S. Edley, PhD:

I would like to personally thank you for honoring me with your vote as a new board member for the National Council for Behavioral Health, representing Region 3. I look forward to providing leadership and strategic direction to the National Council and to be the voice for our community of members.

I would also like to thank Susan Blue, CEO of Community Services Group, for her nomination. Susan, as many of you know, is a current National Council and RCPA Board member and past Chair of both organizations. For more information on all new board members, view the National Council for Behavioral Health Announces New Board Members press release.

Thank you again for your support.

PA Pursue Your Happiness

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2020

Harrisburg, PA – Today, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s (DCED) Tourism Office encouraged Pennsylvanians to support local restaurants by visiting the CarryoutPA website, which offers a comprehensive list of restaurants offering takeout, curbside, or delivery services during the state’s stay-at-home order.

“As this public health crisis continues to unfold, it is important that we practice social distancing and adhere to the stay-at-home order when possible,” said DCED Secretary Dennis Davin. “But it’s also critical to remember that we can all still do our part to support the restaurants in our communities as they work to provide safe dine-out options.”

CarryoutPA.com was developed by the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association (PRLA) to serve as a go-to resource for dine-out options in support of the commonwealth’s restaurant industry, which accounts for 10 percent of jobs statewide. Pennsylvania restaurants that would like to be added to the registry can register here.

“Restaurants in Pennsylvania and the nation have been hit hard by the mandated closure of dine-in service due to COVID-19. As the statewide organization for the commonwealth’s restaurant industry, PRLA moved quickly to establish a website for restaurants to let the public know that they were open and ready to serve their communities,” said John Longstreet, PRLA president & CEO. “Any restaurant in Pennsylvania that is open for take out and delivery may add their listing to CarryOutPA.com, at no charge.”

According to the association, 4 percent of the national Gross Domestic Product is spent on eating out, with the restaurant industry generating around $863 billion in 2019. More than 70 percent of restaurants are single-unit operations, many of which are family owned.

“Small business is the backbone of Pennsylvania’s tourism industry, and we are committed to supporting our commonwealth’s business owners as we work through these unprecedented times together,” said DCED Deputy Secretary for Marketing, Tourism, and Film, Carrie Fischer Lepore. “By visiting the CarryoutPA website, Pennsylvanians can treat themselves to a safely-prepared dine-out meal while helping their community on the road to recovery from this pandemic.”

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should visit: Responding to COVID-19 Guide.

The Pennsylvania Tourism Office, under the Department of Community and Economic Development, is dedicated to inspiring travel to Pennsylvania as the state’s official destination marketing organization. Pennsylvania welcomed 204 million visitors in 2019, generating a $43 billion economic impact which supports 500,000 jobs. For more information, visit the visitPA website or sign up for our Happy Thoughts newsletter, become a fan on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, check out photos on Instagram, share pins on Pinterest, or watch us on Youtube.

MEDIA CONTACT: Casey Smith, casesmith@pa.gov

The Department of Human Services (DHS) is working closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) to ensure preparations for a response to a possible Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the state and as a result, has issued a Health Alert with pertinent information. DOH is the lead agency for the Commonwealth’s response to COVID-19. At the time of this dissemination, Pennsylvania has zero confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Again, DHS is supporting DOH in the disseminating of information related to COVID-19 and all guidance is provided by, and should be sought through, DOH.

All providers are encouraged to:

  1. Review internal infection control protocols and emergency backup plans for events in which a provider does not have adequate staffing to meet individuals’ health and safety needs.
  2. Evaluate staff adherence to provider infection control protocols.
  3. Evaluate capacity to implement emergency backup plans in the event staffing is impacted by the COVID-19 virus.

While COVID-19 is raising international concern, it presents an opportunity to evaluate preventative infection control measures. Medically fragile individuals, those in congregate settings, and the staff that support/interact with them are all at increased risk for infections of all kinds, not just COVID-19. As always, the best response is prevention and the best prevention is good infection control.

Capitolwire: Gov. Wolf signs into law bill allowing Pennsylvania to operate its own health insurance exchange, create reinsurance program.

By Alyssa Biederman
PLCA Intern

HARRISBURG (July 2) – Legislation hoping to make health insurance more accessible and less expensive for Pennsylvanians was signed into law on Tuesday by Gov. Tom Wolf.

“This bill is a huge step toward making health insurance affordable and effective for all Pennsylvanians,” said Wolf, indicating the hope is for the new law to make it so “everyone pays less.”

House Bill 3 was a bi-partisan effort to allow Pennsylvania to create its own state-run health insurance exchange, which will minimize Federal costs and allow the state to subsidize premiums.

HB3 prime sponsor and House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, said healthcare is an issue for everyone, regardless of political party, that has to be solved.

“For too long people have been frustrated with healthcare,” Cutler, a former X-Ray technician, said. “Instead of focusing on making things better, we too often focus on what things cost.”

He added that the enactment of this bill — which will be effective for the Fall 2020 open enrollment and insurance coverage that begins Jan. 1, 2021 — will “significantly” decrease costs for Pennsylvania’s more than 400,000 private health insurance consumers that currently obtain their insurance from the federally-run exchange.

The bill will achieve this by transferring Pennsylvania’s existing health insurance exchange from federal to state control. Becoming state-run, Wolf said, will save money that will ultimately be used to decrease the amount health insurance consumers have to pay each month.

Pennsylvania has relied on the federal health insurance exchange since the implementation of 2010’s Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. According to the Wolf administration, to cover costs, the federal government charges insurers a 3.5-percent fee on premiums paid by ACA enrollees each month, a projected $98 million for Pennsylvania insurers in 2019. This user fee is expected to be cut to 3 percent beginning in 2020, which would equate to approximately $88 million dollars from Pennsylvania insurers. Eliminating the need for insurers to pay that fee will allow for a redirection of that funding to help pay for a reinsurance program, which will allow insurers to price their products lower by limiting their exposure to very high, unpredictable medical expenses incurred by their members; the reinsurance program covers some of those expenses when they exceed a certain threshold.

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman said she believes this change will incentivize more Pennsylvanians to apply for health insurance in the state.

Altman added that although the signing of the bill is a step forward, the state must continue to make health insurance more accessible.

“The passage of this legislation is analogous to registering for a marathon,” Altman said. “The race is still before us. We have a lot of training to do and roads to run before we reach the finish line.”

Cutler said he is confident that Pennsylvania’s four legislative caucuses will be able to keep passing legislation that will improve Pennsylvania’s health insurance landscape after seeing the collaboration that went into HB3. The bill passed unanimously in the House and Senate last week.

This plan was inspired by an executive order by President Donald Trump which provided states with more flexibility regarding the operation of their own health insurance exchanges.

“Regardless of how you feel about the status of things in Washington, D.C., we have a responsibility to govern here in Pennsylvania,” said Cutler. “That’s what this bill demonstrates better than anything else.”

Questions, please contact Jack Phillips.

(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.