Policy Areas

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) recently posted a number of grant opportunities associated with traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

On February 7, 2018, College and Career Success for Students with Serious Mental Illness or Traumatic Brain Injury was posted. The purpose of this grant opportunity is to generate new knowledge about the effectiveness of interventions to improve college education and employment outcomes of people with serious mental illness or traumatic brain injury. The funding for this grant is $475,000 and the closing date for applications is April 9, 2018.

On February 14, 2018, two additional grant opportunities were posted:

Traumatic Brain Injury State Partnership Program Partner State Funding Opportunity, whose purpose is to create and strengthen a system of services and supports that maximizes the independence, well-being, and health of persons with TBI across the lifespan, their families, and their caregivers. Through the TBI State Partnership Program, the goal is two-fold:

  1. To allow states to strengthen and grow their capacity to support and maintain a system of services and supports that will help maximize the independence, well-being, and health of persons with TBI; and
  2. To learn from and call upon the expertise of states that have built and maintained a strong and sophisticated state TBI infrastructure. This grant opportunity has an award ceiling of $150,000.

The Traumatic Brain Injury State Partnership Program Mentor State Funding Opportunity has a purpose to create and strengthen a system of services and supports that maximizes the independence, well-being, and health of persons with TBI across the lifespan, their families, and their caregivers. Through the TBI State Partnership Program, the goal is two-fold:

  1. To help states strengthen and grow their capacity to support and maintain a system of services and supports that will help maximize the independence, well-being, and health of persons with TBI; and
  2. To learn from and call upon the expertise of states that have built and maintained a strong and sophisticated state TBI infrastructure. For the 2018 funding cycle, ACL is funding two tiers of grantees that will work together to maximize the program’s impact nationally.

Partner State Grants will provide funding to states for building and enhancing basic infrastructure, while Mentor State Grants will provide funding to more established states to maintain and expand their infrastructure and also to mentor Partner States and work together with other Mentor States and ACL to improve the national impact of the TBI program. Applicants must agree to provide the required 2:1 state match, support a state TBI advisory board, provide at least one full-time dedicated staff person, create an annual TBI state plan, create and/or expand their state TBI registry, work with one or more Partner States to increase their capacity to provide access to comprehensive and coordinated services for individuals with TBI and their families, and work with other Mentor States and ACL to improve national coordination and collaboration around TBI services and supports.

ACL encourages organizations that are interested and qualify to apply for both funding opportunity announcements; however, ACL will not make more than one award to a single applicant. Applicants that score in the fundable range on both reviews may choose which award they wish to receive. Applicants that are only interested in receiving a Partner State Grant do not need to apply for this opportunity. This grant opportunity has an estimated award ceiling of $300,000. The closing date for both of these grant opportunities is April 16, 2018.

RCPA will be working with the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) to review the grant applications and discuss next steps surrounding these opportunities.

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While the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) initially planned to create a PA version of American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) training, copyright restrictions prohibited them from doing so. Therefore, the official training entity recommended by ASAM — The Change Companies’ training partner “Train for Change” — will be providing all statewide, in-person trainings to meet the need of this transition. Both DDAP and the Change Companies have required that all staff doing assessments in this transition attend a two day, in-person ASAM training session. DDAP has determined that the information presented and the opportunity for dialogue and exchange that is only available through the in-person training would be required for those whose essential job function is to know and apply the criteria. Also, there have been changes from the earlier editions of the ASAM Criteria that necessitate training on the Third Edition. Given the copyright restrictions and the importance DDAP has placed on this change, there is no way to circumvent the in-person training.

DDAP has posted an updated FAQ document on its website which includes the most recent information regarding the ASAM transition. This site will be updated as more current information becomes available; therefore, members are encouraged to visit the site often.

One of the biggest challenges that members are experiencing is the cost involved in sending staff to the two day, in-person training. RCPA is sending out a survey to members this week to gather information about assistance they may be receiving from counties/BH-MCOs and identify those members that have received no support. The Pennsylvania Association of County Drug and Alcohol Administrators, in collaboration with DDAP, has just completed a survey of all of the SCAs to determine what resources are available to assist providers with financial assistance. RCPA has advocated that the cost of lost clinic time be included in this support, in addition to basic training costs. DDAP has strongly encouraged SCAs, BHMCOs, and treatment providers to work together in cost sharing. The DDAP website has an updated list of trainings that have been scheduled.

Some SCAs and oversight bodies are moving ahead with their own plans. All members are strongly encouraged to contact their SCA for more information. When RCPA survey responses are complete, more information will be shared regarding the areas across the state that are not getting the financial assistance they need. DDAP has asked RCPA to keep them abreast of the information obtained from the survey so that they can provide whatever assistance and advocacy they are able to. It appears that some unused funds in one county might be shifted to help another county to cover these costs. It has also been reported that some of the BH-MCOs are using reinvestment funds to assist providers.

RCPA will continue to work with DDAP and other partners on behalf of members in meeting the requirements of the transition to the ASAM Criteria and receiving the financial help needed.

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Governor Wolf recently declared the heroin and opioid epidemic a statewide disaster emergency. One piece of this declaration includes a 90-day waiver on the specific regulations listed below.

  • Waive the face-to-face physician requirement for Narcotic Treatment Program (NTP) admissions to allow initial intake review by a Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner (CRNP) or Physician Assistant (PA) to expedite initial intakes and streamline coordination of care when an individual is most in need of immediate attention.
  • Expand access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) by waiving the regulatory provision in order to permit dosing at satellite facilities even though counseling remains at the base NTP. This allows more people to receive necessary treatments at the same location, increasing their access to all the care and chances for recovery.
  • Waive annual licensing requirements for high-performing drug and alcohol treatment facilities to allow for bi-annual licensure process, which streamlines licensing functions and better allocates staff time. The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) will request that facilities seek a waiver by filing exception requests to the annual licensing requirement.
  • Eliminate the fee required by statute for birth certificates, for individuals who request a good-cause waiver by attesting that they are affected by Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). This is of particular importance to individuals experiencing homelessness and other vulnerable populations who often cannot obtain copies of their birth certificates in order to access treatment and other benefits due to the financial requirements.
  • Waive separate licensing requirements for hospitals and emergency departments to expand access to drug and alcohol treatment, to allow physicians to administer short-term MAT consistent with DEA regulations, without requiring separate notice to DDAP.

Given how much time has passed since the initial 90-day waiver was announced, RCPA leaders are in the process of requesting a 90-day extension. If there is an extension, other blanket waivers may be added. A survey will be sent out soon to help RCPA determine what those new blanket waivers should be.

It is important to note that individual waivers/exceptions have continued using the exact same process that they have typically been using before the declaration.

Contact Lynn Cooper with any questions.

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(Text of Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency February 14 press release)

Harrisburg, PA. — As part of his 2018-19 proposed budget, Governor Tom Wolf is recommending $2 million for new drug courts and the expansion and enhancement of existing courts through an appropriation to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD).

“Drug courts are a key component in the fight against the opioid epidemic,” PCCD Chairman Charles Ramsey said. “These courts address the underlying addiction and mental health issues of people involved in the criminal justice system while holding them accountable for their actions.”

The 2016-17 budget included $300,000 for drug courts and was expanded to $2 million in the 2017-18 budget. An additional $1 million in federal CURES Act funding was also used during 2017.

Through a competitive grant process, PCCD awarded funding to counties to support the implementation of new drug courts, the expansion of existing drug courts, the expansion of support services to drug court participants, and/or opioid-related treatment services to problem-solving court participants.

“PCCD has a long history of being involved in the expansion of the use of problem-solving courts across the Commonwealth,” Ramsey said. “We will continue to work with the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania’s Courts to support activities that improve the operation of drug courts through advanced training and accreditation, as well as expanding the availability of this valuable sentencing alternative.”

For additional information on funding availability and to register for funding notifications, please visit PCCD’s website at www.pccd.pa.gov.

Media contact: Kirsten Kenyon, 717-265-8505

Please find a press release below from Senator Casey regarding HR 620:

For Immediate Release
February 14, 2018

Jacklin Rhoads
202-228-6367 (o)
202-384-8989 (m)

Casey Statement On House of Reps. Decision to Continue Consideration of Disability Civil Rights Gutting Legislation

Washington, D.C. – On the eve of a planned vote by the House of Representatives on HR 620, the mis-named ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, U.S. Senator Bob Casey released the following statement:

“The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 as the last of the major civil rights laws. The ADA changed the landscape of the country by ensuring that all parts of communities were accessible to Americans with disabilities. Prior to the passage of the ADA, people with disabilities were often denied access to grocery stores, movie theaters, ball parks, trains and buses. With the passage of the ADA, people with disabilities were assured the rights to access all businesses and services offered to the general public without discrimination.

Now, the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a misguided, mean-spirited bill that will significantly limit the rights of people with disabilities by removing the teeth of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

HR 620 will make it more difficult for people with disabilities to gain entrance to local stores, attend a play, or use a web site. This bill removes the need for a business or any organization that offers its services to the public to make those services accessible until a complaint is filed. The bill makes it more difficult to file a complaint and would make a person with a disability wait up to 180 days or more to gain access to services. That’s a long time to wait for a meal in a restaurant, to fill a prescription or to get a haircut.

I urge my House colleagues to vote no on this bill and recognize that Congress should be protecting the civil rights of people with disabilities, not weakening and discarding those rights.

HR 620 would make the over 50 million Americans with disabilities second class citizens. The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed nearly 28 years ago, assuring the rights of people with disabilities to be treated as equals under the law. I will continue to fight to protect those rights and oppose any legislation that threatens those rights.”


Emergency Briefing THIS AFTERNOON Regarding HR 620

Congress is on the verge of weakening the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Tomorrow morning, lawmakers are expected to vote on HR 620 – the ADA Education and Reform Act – which removes incentives for businesses to comply with the ADA. This weakens the ADA and people with disabilities’ civil rights because it puts the weight of enforcing the ADA on their shoulders.

Today is our opportunity to stop it. We need you, and like-minded constituents, to tell Congress to vote AGAINST this cruel and unfair bill. Join today at 3:00 pm (ET) to protect the ADA by dialing 1-866-439-4480, 59741638#.

Even if you can’t call in, please take these steps immediately:

  • WHAT: Call your Member of Congress and tell them this bill weakens the rights of people you support.
  • WHEN: Today. Don’t Wait.
  • HOW: Call the Congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 TTY and tell the operators your state and zip code. They will connect you to your representative.

“Hello, I am a constituent who cares deeply about people with disabilities. I am calling to ask the US Representative to oppose HR 620 – the ADA Education and Reform Act – because it removes incentives for businesses to comply with the ADA. This weakens the ADA and people with disabilities’ civil rights because it puts the weight of enforcing the ADA on their shoulders. Thank you for your hard work answering the phones.”

Join us today at 3:00 pm (ET) to hear the latest on this problematic legislation, including which legislators could make the difference.

This week the House of Representatives may consider HR 620, a House bill that will weaken Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act by removing any incentive for businesses, organizations, and anyone who provides services to the general public to make their services accessible.

HR 620 facts:

  • Removes any incentive for voluntary compliance;
  • Rewards non-compliance by allowing businesses generous additional timelines, even though the ADA’s very reasonable requirements are already over 25 years old! The ADA is already carefully crafted to take the needs of businesses into account;
  • Pretends that money damages requested from businesses are part of the ADA. Actually, this part of the ADA doesn’t even allow money damages, so changing the federal ADA will not affect any state law money damage provisions;
  • Ignores the extensive, free educational resources already available today to any business on how to comply with the ADA;
  • Ignores the effective & extensive methods already available to courts and state bar associations to deal with a very few frivolous lawsuits or unscrupulous attorneys. We should use those existing legal mechanisms when needed, rather than deny the civil rights established by the ADA that aid people with disabilities every day; and
  • Look behind the media myths: The vast majority of ADA attorneys and plaintiffs are seeking solutions to fix real denials of access. But the business community has pushed the media to portray “a few bad apples” as a landslide.

The House tentative schedule for the bill is as follows:

Tuesday –The House Rules Committee will meet today (February 13), likely in the later afternoon or evening, to determine the process for consideration of HR 620 on the House floor as well as amendments. Some amendments may try to “improve” the bill; this is not possible. The only way to “improve” a bill that eliminates civil rights is to remove all of its components. Improving a bill that will weaken or gut a set of civil rights really isn’t possible, so amendments are not a strategy. The Rules Committee will ultimately vote on how they will recommend consideration of HR 620 on the House floor, including the amount of time for debate and how or if amendments will be considered.
Wednesday — House leadership on both sides will be counting votes. The rules for considering HR 620 will be on the House floor. Leadership will likely speak to the rules that the Rules Committee has recommended. This will be a time for opposition to highlight the damage this bill will cause if passed.

Thursday — as of Monday morning, HR 620 was the only bill scheduled for a vote on Thursday; the vote will likely be an early afternoon vote. Reps. Hoyer, Scott, and Langevin will likely speak against the bill on the floor before the vote.

If the bill passes, then movement will shift to the Senate where there is not yet a companion bill introduced. We are speaking with many offices to determine what, if any, action will take place in the Senate, and will keep you informed as to that action.

Some additional talking points are as follows:

  • HR 620 removes the civil rights of all citizens with disabilities; it causes people with disabilities to wait for their right to access any service that all citizens have access to immediately. HR 620 asks people with disabilities to wait months — and in some cases years — to be able to enter a restaurant, hotel, store, theater, or to shop online. This would never be asked of any other group;
  • If businesses are concerned about bad actor lawyers, then stop the bad behavior of those lawyers — don’t eliminate the rights of over 50 million Americans because there are a handful of despicable attorneys;
  • If the civil rights of 50 million Americans can be eliminated, then the civil rights of other groups can be as well;
  • Vote “NO” on HR 620.

The bottom line is that HR 620 is being considered this week, has enormous support from over 100 Representatives, and will be voted on this week. Please contact your Congressman and ask them to vote NO. All members of the House of Representatives need to hear that there is great opposition to the bill and that it will permanently harm the civil rights of people with disabilities.

The Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL) will conduct the next Community HealthChoices (CHC) Third Thursday webinar on Thursday, February 15, 2018, 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm. Providing updates during the webinar will be OLTL’s Acting Deputy Secretary, Kevin Hancock, and representatives from the three managed care organizations (MCOs): Pennsylvania Health and Wellness, AmeriHealth Caritas, and UPMC For You. Tentative agenda topics include CHC updates and launch indicators and transportation.

To register for the webinar, please use this link. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. If you require captioning services, please use this link and use the login information: Username: OLL / Password: OLL.

All CHC related information can be found online here. Comments can be submitted electronically via email. If you have any questions, please contact the OLTL Bureau of Policy and Regulatory Management at 717-857-3280.