Policy Areas

Please take two minutes today to ask your US Senators to complete the work begun by the House and vote to renew Money Follows the Person (MFP) program before this session ends!

On Tuesday, the US House of Representatives passed a bill to renew the MFP program for three months. The Senate is NOW considering whether to pass it and send it to the President for his signature. Time is of the essence because Congress is slated to go on recess for the holidays in less than two weeks.

THE ASK: Email your Senators to ask them to vote YES on the IMPROVE Act (HR 7217) through an expedited process known as “the hotline.” Our email tool will allow you to send an email directly to their health staff in Washington, DC, who advise them on their decision-making.

THE DETAILS: Money Follows the Person is an important program that has helped over 85,000 people with disabilities and chronic conditions voluntarily move from state-run institutions into the community. It expired in 2016, and with state programs now running out of funds this is already having consequences for people with disabilities. In its annual survey of state Medicaid directors, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that half planned to discontinue program services or administrative activities if Congress did not renew the MFP program’s funding.

By renewing MFP for three months, the IMPROVE Act gives the program a needed bridge into the new Congress in 2019, where we can advocate for a longer renewal. Read ANCOR’s letter of support for the program here, and learn more about the expedited “hotline” voting process here (page 3, “The Operation of Unanimous Consent” section).

Speak up today so that people with I/DD who want to live in the community can live with their family, friends, and peers – just like everyone else!

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

The Pennsylvania Children and Youth Administrators Association (PCYA) is hosting a training on The Family First Prevention Act (FFPA) on January 30, 2019, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm at the CCAP Office, located at 2789 Old Post Road, Harrisburg, PA. The Office of Children, Youth and Families will provide an overview of Family First and update attendees on Pennsylvania’s implementation plans moving forward. Providers and county staff are encouraged to attend.

The Act and the federal funding associated with it will dramatically change PA’s child welfare system. New requirements and new opportunities for use of Title IV-E and Title IV-B dollars to enhance prevention efforts will be included in the presentation.

The registration link is provided in this flyer.

If you have questions about the training, please contact:

Brian C. Bornman, Esq.
PCYA Executive Director
County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania
Phone: 717-836-4736 | Cell: 717-836-4267 | Fax: 717-526-1020
bbornman@pacounties.org | www.pcya.org

The Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) and the Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training (ASERT) Collaborative are trying to learn more about training needs among providers who work with individuals living with autism, intellectual disabilities, other developmental disabilities, and their families. ODP is constantly building capacity by developing resources and trainings that are helpful to people who support individuals with autism, intellectual, and developmental disabilities.

By responding to this survey, you are helping ODP to create trainings and resources that will better meet your needs. Please have your voice heard! This survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete. Please complete this survey by January 18, 2019. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact info@paautism.org.

To complete the ASD Seminar Survey, use this link.

ODP Announcement 105-18 addresses the requirement for Supports Coordinators (SCs) to review and complete the Right to Report Abuse Notification handout annually with all individuals and record the action in an SC Monitoring Tool in the Home and Community Services Information System (HCSIS). Documentation of this activity is not satisfied by strictly answering “Yes” to the question of: “Was the individual (and involved family or other unpaid caregivers, as appropriate) informed about abuse, neglect, and exploitation protections AND was information about how to report provided?” SCs must record detailed information outlining completion of all steps listed below. To meet ODP’s expectation for completing the Right to Report Abuse Notification handout, the following must occur:

  • In a location that affords the individual privacy, discuss the meaning of abuse, neglect, and exploitation
  • The discussion must take place in a format understood by the individual and using means of communication which the individual prefers
  • Advise the individual/surrogate that they have the right:
    – To be free from abuse, neglect, and exploitation
    – To report abuse, neglect, and exploitation
  • Discuss with whom the individual may report (e.g. family members, friends, SCs, Disability Rights of Pennsylvania (DRPA), protective service organizations, law enforcement, etc.)
  • Complete the handout by filling in the blank space, indicating contact information and establish a place where the individual may readily access it
  • Advise the individual that they can report abuse, neglect, and exploitation to another person, if the first person they notified failed to take action
  • After the meeting, document the conversation and the contact information (names and phone numbers) in an SC Monitoring Tool in HCSIS. The record must clearly indicate that the conversation took place in a location that affords privacy.
  • As part of the monitoring process, SCs should revisit the discussion with the individual to ensure that they continue to feel safe, remember the handout, and have access to it.

If an individual discloses any allegation, the SC must be prepared to take all necessary actions to ensure that the individual’s immediate health and safety needs are being addressed per ODP policy and according to law.

Please direct questions regarding this announcement to the appropriate ODP Regional Office.

ODP has announced that the Medication Administration Training Program will be unavailable as a result of scheduled maintenance from Tuesday December 18, 2018 through Friday December 21, 2018.

The outage is scheduled to start at 2:00 pm on the afternoon of Tuesday, December 18, 2018. If you are able to access the course after 2:00 pm that afternoon, please note that the system may become unavailable at any time later in the day, without additional notice. That means that if you are working in the system after this date and time, the system could suddenly become unavailable and your work would be lost.

*Please do not access the system after the scheduled outage period begins.*

Please check the following places for updates on this outage:

If the outage ends sooner than 12/21/2018, notice will be provided at the above-mentioned sites. Please contact Carol Ferenz, RCPA IDD Division Director, with any questions.

Earlier this week, State Representative Seth Grove (R – York) drafted and has been circulating a co-sponsorship memo that will possibly eliminate the behavioral health carve out. Additionally, State Representative Aaron Kaufer (R – Luzerne) spoke with Jack Phillips, RCPA Director of Government Affairs, expressing his interest in drafting similar legislation.

Today, Richard Edley, RCPA President/CEO, and Jack Phillips spoke with staffers from the House Human Service and Health Committees about this legislation. The House staff asked for RCPA’s   feedback within the next few weeks, because staff will be working on the draft legislative language. During the discussion with House staff, RCPA requested stakeholder meetings and possibly a House hearing on the legislation. The House staff was open to RCPA’s recommendations, and they indicated a willingness for a robust discussion on this legislation.

The elimination of the behavioral health carve out will be discussed at the upcoming RCPA Open Board Meeting on Wednesday, December 12. The RCPA Open Board meeting will take place at RCPA, 777 E Park Drive, Harrisburg, PA 17111. Questions, contact RCPA Director of Government Affairs Jack Phillips.

The Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) has announced that the document, “Action Plan: Information Sharing and Advisory Committee (ISAC) Plan for Sexual Abuse Prevention and Healthy Relationships,” is available now on MyODP. The document is the product of conversations and commitments made by ODP’s ISAC membership and emphasizes the shared responsibility of everyone to help prevent sexual abuse.

The Department of Justice reported that people with intellectual disabilities are sexually assaulted at seven times the rate of those without a disability. This is almost certainly an underestimate. The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have raised the national consciousness, illuminating how sexual assault is pervasive in our country. Yet, it is still too often ignored, downplayed, justified, or rationalized.

For people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, this suppression of the reality of sexual abuse is exacerbated because people often aren’t believed, or their testimony is discounted or devalued. As a result, ISAC organizational representatives have laid out these plans to tackle the problem and begin implementing a solution.

Contact RCPA IDD Division Director Carol Ferenz with any questions.

As we continue to work with the Department of Human Services (DHS) on the proposed Intensive Behavioral Health Services (IBHS) regulations, providers through the BHRS Work Group identified a potential solution to the real challenge of recruitment and retention of direct service staff. Providers experience varying degrees of difficulty with hiring Therapeutic Staff Support (TSS) and with recruitment of Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT). The letters below are intended to provide some guidance and assistance for those BHRS providers who need a solution to their staffing crisis.

The work group acknowledges that there are a number of other issues related to implementation of the proposed regulations and will continue to meet and collaborate on ways to address additional barriers. In the meantime, feel free to utilize these letters if necessary. Our members have reported that some of the County Oversight entities and the BH-MCOs are open to considering solutions and strategies to help address workforce challenges. If you have questions or additional input, please contact Robena Spangler.

Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) Acting Deputy Secretary Kristin Ahrens has officially been named Deputy Secretary of ODP.

Deputy Secretary Ahrens formerly served as Director of Bureau of Policy and Quality Management. She was instrumental in developing the ODP waivers and has been responsible for policy development, training, quality, and communications for the past two years. Prior to her appointment at ODP she served as the Policy Director at Temple University, where she was responsible for directing all policy-related activities for the institute, including policy analysis; training and technical assistance to staff, community groups, and policymakers; and creating and/or disseminating briefs on local, state, and federal policy issues that affect people with disabilities and families. Ahrens also provided consultation to ODP on fiscal policy and the HCBS settings rule, served on the Adult Protective Services Coalition, Disability Budget Coalition, DHS Regulatory Revision Work Group, and Association for University Centers Legislative Affairs Committee. She also has experience in Person-Driven Services, including her work at Self Determination Resources (SDRI) for six years, where she was instrumental in the growth of SDRI from a pilot project to a fully operational model brokerage which was replicated statewide. In addition, Ms. Ahrens served as a consultant on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Transformation Transfer Initiative for building sustainable self-directed services in PA’s mental health system.

RCPA extends our congratulations to Deputy Secretary Ahrens and we look forward to continuing collaborative work in her role at ODP. Contact Carol Ferenz, RCPA IDD Division Director, with questions.