Drug & Alcohol

The National Council Conference will be held Mon–Wed, April 23–25, 2018, at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, Washington, DC. This event is the health care industry’s foremost behavioral health conference. Each year, more than 5,000 leaders like you explore health care’s greatest innovations in practice improvement, financing, integrated health care, technology, policy and advocacy, and professional development at the National Council Conference. Pennsylvania is consistently among the most well represented groups from around the country.

Please register before Friday, December 1, 2017, to take advantage of a special preview rate. RCPA members are offered a more deeply discounted registration; please use the coupon code 18memberPA for an additional $225 in savings. Contact Richard Edley with any additional questions.

(From OMHSAS)

The Department of Human Services is making available for public review and comment the proposed Federal Section 1115 Demonstration waiver application for substance use disorder (SUD) services.

The purpose of this Demonstration is to afford continued access to high quality, medically necessary treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) and other substance use disorders (SUDs). Pennsylvania recognizes the importance of a full continuum of treatment services, including residential services that are provided in a cost-effective manner and for a length of stay that is governed by appropriate clinical guidelines.  This Demonstration is critical to provide the necessary funding to support the continuation of medically necessary services.

The goals of this Demonstration are to:

  1. Improve the overall population health outcomes for Medicaid beneficiaries diagnosed with a substance use disorder by:
    1. Reducing overdose deaths
    2. Increasing the number of Medicaid beneficiaries who access substance use treatment
    3. Increasing the rate of retention in treatment across all levels of care
  2. Decrease utilization of high-cost emergency department and hospital services by:
    1. Decreasing the number of emergency department visits and inpatient admissions
    2. Decreasing the number of readmissions to the same level of care or higher levels of care for a primary SUD diagnosis
  3. Improve care transition across the continuum of substance use services by:
    1. Enhancing coordination of care with other behavioral and physical health services
    2. Enhancing the process for transitions between levels of care

The 1115 Demonstration waiver application is available here. In addition, copies of the application are available upon written request to the Director, Bureau of Policy, Planning, and Program Development, Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, 11th Floor Commonwealth Tower, 303 Walnut Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101.

The Department will hold four public hearings throughout the Commonwealth to accept testimony on the proposed 1115 Demonstration waiver application.  The Department will also present updates and solicit comment on the waiver application at the Medical Assistance Advisory Committee meeting on December 14, 2017.

The schedule of dates, times and locations for the public hearings is listed below:

Public Hearing Schedule

December 4, 2017, 10:00 a.m. to 12 noon
OMHSAS NE Field Office Conference Room
100 Lackawanna Avenue
Scranton, PA

December 5, 2017, 10:00 a.m. to 12 noon
Norristown State Hospital Auditorium
1001 Sterigere Street
Norristown, PA

December 8, 2017, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 am
Child Welfare Resource Center
403 East Winding Hill Road
Mechanicsburg, PA

December 11, 2017 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 pm
Shenango Crossing
2520 New Butler Road
New Castle, PA 16101

Public Comment

The Department seeks public input on the proposed 1115 Demonstration waiver application for SUD services.  The 30-day public comment period began on November 18, 2017 and ends on December 18, 2017.  Persons who wish to testify on the proposed 1115 Demonstration waiver application at one of the public hearings should schedule a time by telephoning (717) 772-7900.  Persons from outside the Harrisburg area may send a written request, including telephone number, to Satoko Hariyama, Bureau of Policy, Planning, and Program Development, Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, 11th Floor, Commonwealth Tower, 303 Walnut Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101.

Individuals also may submit written comments at any of the public hearings or by email or by mail to the address of the contact person identified above.  The Department will consider all comments received by December 18, 2017 in developing the final waiver application.

Persons with a disability who require auxiliary aid or service may submit comments using the Pennsylvania AT&T Relay Service at (800) 654-5984 (TDD users) or (800) 654-5988 (voice users).

The Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) has announced that individuals who are interested in OVR services can complete a pre-application online through JobGateway. This is considered to be a streamlined approach that should expedite the process of connecting with OVR services. To request services, a person can simply complete and submit the online pre-application using these instructions. Anyone having difficulty completing their pre-application can contact their closest OVR district office for assistance.

It is important to note that completing a pre-application online is not required; rather, it is being made available to streamline the process.

Anyone can refer themselves or someone else to OVR. If not using the online process, then simply call OVR’s toll free number (1-800-442-6351 voice/1-866-830-7327 TTY) or a district office. OVR exists to assist people with disabilities in securing or maintaining employment and independence. Generally, people are eligible for OVR services if they have a “physical or mental impairment that results in a significant impediment to employment.” Additional information about OVR, who can be served, and the services available through OVR can be found here.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers 14 self-paced online business courses to behavioral health organizations and providers through BHbusiness. The courses are available at no cost and participants can earn continuing education credits at their own pace.

New courses include Value-Based Purchasing and Bundled Payments. Other course offerings include:

  • Data-Driven Decision Making;
  • New Business Planning;
  • Assessing Your Readiness in Integrating Primary Care;
  • Costing Out Your Services;
  • Effectively Marketing Your Services;
  • Exploring Affiliations and Mergers;
  • Improving Your Third Party Billing System;
  • Planning For the Next Generation of HIT (Health Information Technology);
  • State Assessment on Sustaining SUD Service for Safety Net Populations;
  • Strategic Business Decision Making;
  • Third Party Contract Negotiations; and
  • Eligibility and Enrollment: The ACA, Insurance Eligibility, and Your Business.

The link to the registration page can be found here.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” — Brené Brown

Register for NatCon18 – the National Council Conference – to experience the dynamic Brené Brown and her life-affirming message. Dr. Brown challenges us to view vulnerability in a new way – as a source of courage.

More than 30 million people have viewed her life-changing TED talk, The Power of Vulnerability, and she has written four New York Times #1 best-sellers based on her 16 years of research on courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy.

You can expect the most provocative and relevant speakers and educational offerings in behavioral health at NatCon18. More than 5,000 attendees expect the very best – and they get it.

Register today for NatCon18 and remember to take advantage of the RCPA Member Discount!

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The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs sent the following notice out regarding transition of support for PA Web Infrastructure for Treatment Services (PA WITS) to ensure your agency maintains client confidentiality.

Effective today, November 1, 2017, DDAP will begin providing support and help desk functioning for all issues related to PA WITS. Prior to November 1, support had been provided by FEi, Inc. Given there was an established Business Associate and Qualified Service Organization Agreement (BAQSOA) between each provider and FEi, there were no issues related to confidentiality, so identifying issues by client name was acceptable. This is an important reminder that per 4 Pa Code § 255.5, DDAP is a government agency, and therefore cannot access or view client identifying information. Please ensure when requesting support from DDAP that your staff are only using client numbers and abiding by electronic communication policies that protect this client information.

PA WITS users are encouraged to contact DDAP’s PA WITS Service Desk directly for all requests. Providers and SCAs can contact the Service Desk during normal business hours (Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 4:30 pm, except on state holidays), via email or phone 717-736-7459.

More information is available on the DDAP website:

Overdose deaths from heroin and prescription drug abuse pose a public health crisis. In 2016, 4,642 drug-related overdose deaths were reported in Pennsylvania – an increase of 37 percent from 2015 – and every day 13 Pennsylvanians die of a drug overdose.

Yesterday, President Trump officially declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. This declaration will allow states to redirect federal funds to the opioid crisis. However, it provides no new federal funding. RCPA was pleased to learn that President Trump proposed relaxing the Institutions of Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion for inpatient substance use disorder treatment. The IMD exclusion, which bars Medicaid payment for services delivered in certain facilities with 16 or more beds, has been a major barrier against patients accessing treatment. Pennsylvania officials have stated on numerous occasions that they clearly understand the severity of the IMD exclusion and are working on numerous ways to resolve the problem. Trump’s announcement will likely make that easier to accomplish. This announcement may also allow for expanded access to telemedicine, including remote prescribing for medication-assisted treatment.

Governor Wolf stated that “President Trump’s decision to declare the opioid epidemic a public health emergency is an important step, but this is only the beginning.” He added that “Without a commitment to fund the crisis in specific ways, it’s difficult to say how much this declaration can do. While an awareness of this critical health emergency is important, an increased availability of grant money would help. Every effort to fund treatment, including medication-assisted treatment options, should be explored.”

Pennsylvania has numerous efforts underway to respond to this crisis. Governor Tom Wolf announced at the end of September that Pennsylvania, through its Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), had been awarded a $5.7 million Medication-Assisted Treatment Prescription Drug and Opioid Addiction (MAT-PDOA) grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services, to help in the state’s ongoing fight against the opioid epidemic. The US Department of Health and Human Services also awarded Pennsylvania a $26.5 million grant, funded by the 21st Century Cures Act, signed into law by President Obama in December 2016. Pennsylvania will soon award four $1 million federal PA Coordinated MAT grants to providers in Pennsylvania, via the 21st Century CURES grant funding. Over the next two years, the grant is intended to help combat the heroin and opioid epidemic. In addition, 45 Centers of Excellence (COE) have been implemented to better initiate people into — and keep them engaged in — treatment. DDAP is also working to expand the “warm handoff” process to get overdose survivors directly into treatment. DDAP has implemented a hotline to direct people needing help with treatment (800-662-HELP).

RCPA members have welcomed these initiatives, but members continue to emphasize the need for more funding for basic services. Many rates provided do not even cover the full cost of treatment; the drug and alcohol program has been chronically underfunded for many years. Increased capacity and improved access must be fully funded and that will take new and additional resources. Persons and families struggling for help with an opioid addiction should not have to wait for beds/placements — it is a matter of life or death.

Contact Lynn Cooper, RCPA Director, Drug & Alcohol Division, with any questions.

Acting Secretary Jennifer Smith portrait

RCPA is pleased to report that Jennifer Smith, who was previously Acting Secretary for the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), has been named Secretary of DDAP. Ms. Smith has been a tremendous advocate for Pennsylvania citizens in need of treatment for substance use disorders. She has also been a strong advocate for providers and for strengthening the drug and alcohol system in the Commonwealth. This is evidenced by all the wonderful work being done to address the opioid crisis and to get new funding out to counties and providers, in order to serve more people in need. Ms. Smith works closely with other departments in the Commonwealth to assure that all are collaborating as a team to address the treatment needs of citizens struggling with substance use disorders.

Jennifer Smith’s nomination now must sit on the state Senate’s calendar for 10 days following the submission of paperwork for her nomination as the DDAP Secretary. The paperwork includes ethics and financial disclosures. Thereafter, the Republican-led chamber will have 25 legislative days to consider and act on her nomination. RCPA looks forward to working with this outstanding leader and change agent to improve the drug and alcohol system in Pennsylvania and make much needed progress to improve quality and access of services.

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The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD), in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and the Physician General, today announced the availability of up to $5 million, in state FY 2017/2018 funds, to support the provision of Naloxone to first responders for a two-year period. The Intranasal Naloxone kits will be provided directly to each approved applicant in accordance with a state procured contract and through a state procured vendor. This solicitation is in response to the opioid epidemic gripping the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

PCCD will provide one Centralized Coordinating Entity (CCE) per county or region with Intranasal Naloxone kits to be utilized by a broad category of first responders within that county or region. It will be up to the county or region to determine the appropriate entity to serve as their CCE. PCCD is aware that many counties already have a process in place to ensure that Naloxone is provided to first responders and we encourage you to work within your current framework to utilize this additional supply of Naloxone.

Please note that all applications must be submitted electronically to RA-PCCD_ExecutiveOfc@pa.gov no later than November 6, 2017.  Questions should also be directed to the RA-PCCD_ExecutiveOfc@pa.gov email account.

Please follow this link to view the guidelines and application form.

(Provided by Jennifer Smith, Acting Secretary of DDAP)