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ACL From Our Partners
Webinar 7/23: Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired: People of Color, Disabilities, and Mental Health

Register for the webinar on Thursday, July 23, at 2:00 PM ET.

The Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities National Training Center (MHDD-NTC) presents a webinar exploring the unique intersection of disability, mental health, and people of color. People of color experience higher rates of disability and mental health conditions, but often face decreased access to care and have other co-occurring health disparities. This presentation will highlight these inequities and discuss how we can work towards eliminating these disparities and becoming stronger allies for people of color.

Presenter:

Morénike Giwa Onaiwu is an educator, writer, public speaker, parent, and global advocate. A proactive, resourceful professional and disabled woman of color in a multicultural, neurodiverse, serodifferent family, Morénike, who is American-born to immigrant parents, possesses undergraduate and graduate degrees in International Relations and Education. She has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the “Advocating for Another: Health Activist of the Year” 2014 WEGO Health Award and the “Service to the Self-Advocacy Movement” 2015 Autistic Self Advocacy Network Award.

Register for the webinar.

ACL funds the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities National Training Center (MHDD-NTC). Learn more at mhddcenter.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 8, 2020  

Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Human Services today announced applicants selected through a Request for Applications (RFA) for Pennsylvania’s HealthChoices program, the Medicaid physical health managed care program that provides healthcare coverage to more than 2.6 million people.  DHS is unable to move forward with the selections, however, due to the pendency of protests.

“Pennsylvania’s HealthChoices program is a lifeline for more than 2.6 million Pennsylvanians covered under the Medical Assistance program. This program not only helps with essential health services like doctors’ visits, routine and preventive care, and access to prescriptions necessary to live a healthy life – it also is an opportunity to greatly impact participants’ social and economic trajectory,” said Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller. “As one of our farthest-reaching and highest-cost programs, we are committed to constant quality improvement that focuses on participants’ health and well-being, and innovative, outcomes-driven efficiencies.”

Applicants were selected through a competitive procurement that evaluated applicants’ soundness of approach, personnel qualifications and staffing and prior experience and performance. More information about evaluation criteria can be found in the RFA. Applicants selected were the top scoring applicants for their zone. Selected applicants for each service zone are as follows:

  • Southeast: Geisinger Health Plan, Health Partners Plans, UnitedHealthCare, UPMC for You, and Vista Health Plan (Keystone First);
  • Lehigh/Capital: Gateway Health, Geisinger Health Plan, Health Partners Plans, UPMC for You, and Vista Health Plan (AmeriHealth Caritas);
  • Northeast: Geisinger Health Plan, Health Partners Plans, UPMC for You, and Vista Health Plan (AmeriHealth Caritas);
  • Northwest: Geisinger Health Plan, Health Partners Plans, UPMC for You, and Vista Health Plan (AmeriHealth Caritas); and,
  • Southwest: Gateway Health, Geisinger Health Plan, Health Partners Plans, UPMC for You, and Vista Health Plan (AmeriHealth Caritas).

At the time of this release, two non-selected applicants filed protests of their non-selection.  Due to the filing of these protests, DHS may not take any further action on the procurement until the protests are resolved.

For more information on the HealthChoices procurement and requirements of the RFA, view the RFA here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Erin James, ra-pwdhspressoffice@pa.gov

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 8, 2020

Harrisburg, PA – Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller today announced a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) for the commonwealth to establish a resource and referral tool. The tool will serve as a care coordination system for providers such as health care and social services organizations and will include a closed-loop referral system that will report on the outcomes of the referrals. It will also serve as an access point to search and obtain meaningful information to help Pennsylvanians find and access the services they need to achieve overall well-being and improve health outcomes.

“No one person or provider can help a person fully address all of these goals on their own, and that is okay. We want to make sure that we are focused on how to promote a more holistic approach to health and well-being and that we are ensuring that individuals’ and families’ needs are met through the delivery of the right service at the right time,” said Sec. Miller. “With this resource and referral tool, we hope to establish a system where we can break down walls in the health care and social service system and improve health outcomes and quality of life for Pennsylvanians.”

The purpose of the RFEI is to determine what experienced firms are available to assist DHS and the commonwealth in executing the development and implementation of a statewide resource and referral tool within an aggressive timeframe. Interested parties should have relevant experience and proven success implementing projects of similar scope and working with a wide range of sectors including healthcare organizations, community-based organizations, and state and local government agencies.

The resource and referral tool, when implemented, will allow providers to assess an individual during a physician’s office or emergency department visit, or when receiving case management services, among others. The tool will also gather data that can help the Commonwealth and its partners better understand the needs of vulnerable Pennsylvanians and identify service gaps across the state. By looking at critical social determinants of health, including employment, childcare, transportation, food security, access to health care, and housing stability, the Commonwealth and all network organizations can help individuals achieve better long-term health outcomes and maximize the impact of health care dollars.

The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the urgent need for a customer-friendly system to assist the public in locating resources and to efficiently and effectively connect individuals with critical services such as food, housing, transportation and childcare, as well as many other needed critical services. This tool can provide an alternative to in-person interactions between social services organizations and clients in order to facilitate social distancing.

Individuals, service providers, government agencies, caregivers, educational institutions, faith-based groups, and advocates will be able to use this tool to help navigate the system of resources, and work together to reduce duplication of services as well as the time it takes for individuals to receive much-needed services. The tool will allow service providers to bridge the gaps that make service continuity and follow-up on referrals difficult.

“We all can help Pennsylvanians on a path to achieve better long-term health outcomes, meet their social determinant of health needs, and empower them towards economic self-sufficiency, and our hope is this tool will be a platform to make this possible,” said Sec. Miller. “Governor Wolf and this Administration is working to make sure individuals and families, particularly our most vulnerable, have a strong relationship with a person who can help them navigate across systems and organizations so they know that they are not alone on their path to a better life.”

For more information and to read the RFEI, visit eMarketplace.

MEDIA CONTACT: Erin James, ra-pwdhspressoffice@pa.gov

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 8, 2020

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., July 8, that there are 849 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 92,148. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have cases of COVID-19.

The number of new cases in Allegheny County increased by 230 cases overnight. Philadelphia County increased by 90 cases overnight.

The number of tests administered since July 1 is 118,128 with 5,542 positive test results.

There are 6,812 total deaths attributed to COVID-19, an increase of 25 new deaths reported.

“As the entire state is now in the green phase, we must remain committed to protecting against COVID-19 by wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and avoiding large gatherings this holiday weekend,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Pennsylvania has been a model for the country on how to reopen effectively using a careful, measured approach. However, the virus has not gone away and we are seeing cases rise, especially in Southwest Pennsylvania.”

Mask-wearing is required in all businesses and whenever leaving home. Consistent mask-wearing is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19.

There are 635 patients who have a positive serology test and either COVID-19 symptoms or a high-risk exposure, which are considered probable cases and not confirmed cases. There are 774,378 patients who have tested negative to date. Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Nearly 1% are ages 0-4;
  • 1% are ages 5-12;
  • Nearly 3% are ages 13-18;
  • Nearly 8% are ages 19-24;
  • 37% are ages 25-49;
  • Nearly 24% are ages 50-64; and
  • Nearly 27% are ages 65 or older.

Most of the patients hospitalized are ages 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older.

The department is seeing significant increases in the number of COVID-19 cases among younger age groups, particularly 19 to 24-year-olds. The following regions have seen significant increases among 19 to 24-year-olds in each month from April to July:

  • SW – Approximately 5 percent of cases in April to over 28 percent of cases so far in July;
  • SE – Nearly 5 percent of cases in April to over 16 percent of cases so far in July;
  • NE – Nearly 6 percent of cases in April to over 16 percent of cases so far in July;
  • NW – Nearly 7 percent of cases in April to over 13 percent of cases so far in July; and
  • SC – Approximately 7 percent of cases in April to nearly 13 percent of cases so far in July.

In nursing and personal care homes, there are 18,060 resident cases of COVID-19, and 3,380 cases among employees, for a total of 21,440 at 727 distinct facilities in 55 counties. Out of our total deaths, 4,663 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities. A county breakdown can be found here.

Approximately 6,903 of our total cases are in health care workers.

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

Currently, all 67 counties are in the green phase of reopening.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
  • If you must go out, you are required to wear a mask when in a business or where it is difficult to maintain proper social distancing.

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies.

MEDIA CONTACT:  April Hutcheson, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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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.

From ANCOR:
Late last week, Politico Pro published and HHS later confirmed that providers who were left out of the latest Medicaid tranche from the provider relief fund will be getting another chance. While no official timeline has been finalized, Hill staff confirm that HHS is close to announcing more specifics.

The HHS spokesperson said any provider that missed the deadline will be able to apply. They will be eligible to receive 2 percent of their revenue from seeing patients. More guidance will be forthcoming, the spokesperson said.

See the Politico Pro article for more on what we know at this time.

RCPA will hold its next Member Update webinar on Friday, July 17, 2020 at 9:00 am, to report any current developments. Please register here to participate.

RCPA continues to send out important Alerts and our Daily Update emails. We look forward to your participation and we appreciate your continued work to provide critical services to those in need.