Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities

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 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

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.

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.

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.

The RCPA staff and conference committee would like to thank you all for sponsoring, exhibiting, advertising, and/or attending the 2018 RCPA Annual Conference.

It’s official: The 2019 RCPA Annual Conference will be held September 24–27 at the Hershey Lodge, in Hershey, PA — be sure to mark this landmark event on your calendars!

It is our hope that, as you plan your 2019 events, you will once again consider supporting and attending the conference. Some other key dates to remember:

  • The 2019 Call for Workshop Proposals will be sent out by the end of January.
  • The request for sponsors, exhibitors, and advertisers will be sent out by the end of February.

For any questions about the RCPA Annual Conference, please contact Sarah Eyster, RCPA Conference Coordinator. We wish you all a happy and safe holiday season.

The RCPA Board of Directors recently approved full membership for the association with the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), which in turn will benefit all members of RCPA. ANCOR represents over 1,400 service providers and 52 state provider organizations who support more than one million Americans with intellectual and developmental disabilities through the Medicaid Program. ANCOR provides advocacy on a federal level and represents the workforce of community providers across the country who empower people with developmental disabilities including Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, and autism, to live and work with dignity in their own communities.

Effective in January 2019, all RCPA members will be considered members of ANCOR, and will enjoy the benefits of their membership. There is no additional charge to our members for this; you will receive a welcome email and may choose to opt out or sign up for pertinent email lists.

ANCOR membership offers a multitude of benefits, including:

  • Up to date information regarding federal policy;
  • Opportunities to be involved in shaping public policy;
  • Access to the ANCOR Amplifier – an interactive website that enables members to easily and efficiently communicate with elected officials on important issues;
  • Collaboration with other providers through the use of a private, professional networking community, sharing information and advice with peers across the country;
  • National Advocacy Campaign working to advance the professionalism, recognition of, and improved wages for Direct Support Professionals;
  • Educational offerings including webinars;
  • Technical assistance including guidance on HIPAA, Wage and Hour, and other regulations, including (limited) free access to legal consultation with Gilliland, Maguire & Harper, PC;
  • Shared Resource Purchasing Network that also offers some benefits to employees of organizations; and
  • Publications including weekly updates, Capitol Correspondence, and bi-monthly newsletters.

For a full description of benefits now available to you as members:

RCPA will notify members once this agreement is in full effect. Please contact Carol Ferenz, RCPA IDD Division Director, with questions.

The Office of Developmental Programs issued ODP Communication Number 102-18 announcing delays in two areas that were scheduled to go into effect for ODP Waiver programs. Amendments to the Consolidated, P/FDS, and Community Living Waivers were recently approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) effective November 1, 2018. This communication is regarding the following two changes in the amendments that were scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2019:

  1. Transportation Trip was to transition from a cost-based rate to a fee schedule rate

Implementation of the changes to Transportation Trip will be delayed until July 1, 2019. This delay includes all of the following changes associated with transitioning Transportation Trip from a cost-based service to a fee schedule service:

  • Changes to the number of miles covered in each zone designation;
  • Expanding the service to be provided by relatives, legal guardians, and Organized Health Care Delivery Systems; and
  • Expanding the service to be self-directed through the Agency With Choice or Vendor  Fiscal/Employer Agent participant-directed services models.

These changes are not to be included in a person’s Individual Support Plan effective January 1, 2019. ODP has submitted an amendment to CMS to maintain the Transportation Trip service definition and cost-based rate methodology in its current approved state with no changes effective January 1, 2019.

  1. As part of qualification requirements, staff were to complete the Certified Employment Support Professional (CESP) credential, Basic Employment Services Certificate of Achievement or a Professional Certificate of Achievement in Employment Services certification for certain employment services and components of Community Participation Support.

ODP has received feedback that providers are struggling to have all required staff complete the Basic Employment Services Certificate of Achievement or Professional Certificate of Achievement in Employment Services prior to the pending January 1, 2019 deadline. As a result, the requirement for staff to have one of those qualifications will be delayed until July 1, 2019.

It is imperative that all impacted providers and common law employers that have staff who are required to have one of these employment credentials or certificates start the process now if they have not already done so. There will be no further delays granted in implementation of this qualification criteria.

ODP is drafting another set of amendments to the Consolidated, P/FDS, and Community Living Waivers that will be effective July 1, 2019. Both the changes to transition Transportation Trip to a fee schedule rate and the delay of the qualification criteria regarding employment credentials and certificates discussed in this communication will be included in those amendments with other proposed changes. ODP anticipates that the proposed amendments will be released for public comment in February or March of 2019.

All other changes contained in the waiver amendments effective November 1, 2018 remain effective and must be followed. The current approved waivers can be accessed here.

Contact RCPA IDD Division Director Carol Ferenz with questions.