Drug & Alcohol

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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

NatCon18 – National Council for Behavioral Health’s Annual Conference

Connect with the people and organizations that are driving the future of health care with innovations and revolutionary ideas. NatCon18 celebrates the diversity of our community as we’re reminded of the aspirations that unite us. And RCPA members receive $225 off with code 18MemberPA.

Experience the insight of unequalled speakers. NatCon brings you the most thought-provoking speakers to enlighten, inspire, and challenge you.

Meet the innovators of today and tomorrow at the Solutions Pavilion. Overflowing with more than 350 organizations, get the solutions you need to tackle today’s challenges.

Dig deep into the issues you care most about. Hear from innovators in practice improvement, finance, technology, public policy, integrated care, marketing, and workforce development.

Earn continuing education credits. Fulfill your licensing requirements at the same time you enrich yourself or your staff.

It’s all at NatCon18, the National Council Conference.

Register today and use code 18MemberPA for $225 off registration, until 11:59 pm EST on Monday, February 12!

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the cannabis leaf and judge gavel

At the last RCPA Drug & Alcohol Committee meeting, the issue came up about how legally prescribed medical marijuana fits into the treatment process for substance use disorders (SUDs). RCPA held an extremely helpful Update on Marijuana in June 2017; the informative presentation that was provided is available here. The presentation was made by an expert in the field, Marina Goldman, MD. In addition, the last page of this presentation provides the link to a website that may be helpful in answering some of the questions that arose.

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RCPA recently received the announcement regarding the schedule for the Warm Handoff Regional Summits. Plans are progressing to bring these summits to six regions across Pennsylvania, providing opportunities for interaction and collaboration. Each summit will be a half-day in length (either 9:00 am – 12:00 pm or 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm).

An assessment survey will be distributed in advance of these summits to collect data on the challenges and barriers that may prevent the seamless transition of care for an opioid overdose survivor from the emergency department to the drug and alcohol treatment provider. Each summit is being designed to focus on building solutions to the challenges and barriers identified.

The summits will be held on the dates listed below; times are still pending. Until venue arrangements are confirmed, the counties listed are tentative.

  • Thursday, March 22 – South Central Region (Cumberland or Dauphin County)
  • Tuesday, March 27 – Southeast Region (Chester County)
  • Tuesday, April 3 – Southwest Region (Westmoreland County)
  • Wednesday, April 4 – Northwest Region (Clarion County)
  • Tuesday, April 10 – Northeast Region (Lackawanna or Luzerne County)
  • Thursday, April 12 – Northcentral Region (Lycoming County)

Additional details will be released as soon as they become available. If you have any questions, please submit them via email here.

The 2018 RCPA conference will take place October 2–4 (please note new dates) at the Hershey Lodge. A premier statewide event, the Conference Committee is seeking workshop proposals for possible inclusion. This event offers diverse educational opportunities and submissions are needed in every area; a complete listing of focus tracks is available on the online proposal form. Presentations are encouraged that assist providers to develop and maintain quality, stable, and effective treatments, services, and agencies in an industry where change is constant. The committee looks for presentations which:

  • Highlight new policy, research, and treatment initiatives such as the CCBHC model and Centers of Excellence, to name a few;
  • Provide specific skills and information related to individual and organizational leadership development and enhancement;
  • Address system changes that affect business practices such as Community HealthChoices and integrated and co-located care; and
  • Offer concrete skills and tools to operate more efficient and effective agencies, allowing organizations to strive, survive, and thrive.

Workshop ideas beginning to percolate for 2018 include pharmacogenomics; technology as a human resource option; executive leadership; integrated care strategies for implementation and reimbursement; XYZ rate setting; social capital; ethics; sexuality and sexual abuse issues in the intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) service area; trauma informed care across service types; emergency planning for community violence; acquisitions/mergers and consolidations; value-based purchasing; abuse and protection in the aging population; emerging leaders. The committee welcomes any proposal that addresses these and other topics essential to the rehabilitation, brain injury, mental health, addiction, aging, children’s, and developmental disability communities. Members are encouraged to consider submitting proposals and to forward this opportunity to those who are exceptionally good speakers and have state-of-the-art information to share.

The Call for Proposals and accompanying guidelines outline requirements for submissions. The deadline for submissions is Friday, March 16 at 5:00 pm. Confirmation of receipt will be sent. Proposals submitted after the deadline will not be considered.

Proposals selected stand out by inclusion of solid learning objectives, information that a participant can use to enhance professional skills or methods, and being geared to a diverse and advanced audience. If the proposal is accepted, individuals must be prepared to present on any day of the conference. Workshops are 90 or 180 minutes in length. At the time of acceptance, presenters will be required to confirm the ability to submit workshop handouts electronically four weeks prior to the conference. Anyone unable to meet this expectation should not submit proposals for consideration.

Individuals are welcome to submit multiple proposals. Notification of inclusion will be made by May 15. Questions may be directed to Sarah Eyster, Conference Coordinator.

The Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) has prepared and distributed a plan for regulatory revisions to be made over the next several years. While there are many regulations currently under review, this plan identifies the next round of revisions. In addition, OMHSAS will work with the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) as indicated while revising the regulations. For more information, please contact OMHSAS directly.

RCPA received notice that Ellen DiDomenico, currently Special Assistant for the Department of Human Services (DHS), has been selected as Acting Deputy Secretary of the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) during Secretary Smith’s upcoming extended (two month) medical leave of absence.

The announcement from Lynn Kovich, MEd, Deputy Secretary of DHS, Office of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS), stated that Ms. DiDomenico was asked to serve in this role because of her key involvement in certain initiatives that bring DDAP and OMHSAS together, such as the 21st Century Cures grant, Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC) initiative, the AHRQ Medication Assisted Treatment in rural communities grant, and the Opioid Use Disorder-Centers of Excellence (OUD-COEs). In addition, it is hoped that in this role, she will be able to further bridge the gap between the two agencies. Ellen will continue to play a leadership role in the major initiatives that span both agencies, following her move to DDAP. Effective Monday, January 8, Ms. DiDomenico will officially be part of DDAP staff, but will physically be located at OMHSAS until after DDAP’s relocation downtown later this month.

RCPA looks forward to working with Ellen in her new position and wishes the best to Jennifer Smith during her leave.