Mental Health

(Source: National Council for Behavioral Health, Capitol Connector, June 20, 2019)

On Tuesday, the House voted to pass the “Empowering Beneficiaries, Ensuring Access, and Strengthening Accountability Act of 2019 (HR 3253),” which would extend funding for certain Medicaid programs. Under the provision, funding for the eight-state Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) demonstration program would be extended for another two and a half years until December 21, 2021. There was overwhelming bipartisan support of HR 3253, passing with a vote of 371-46. The bill must now go to the Senate for a vote before the CCBHC demonstration program expires on June 30, 2019. Read more.

The PA Department of Human Services (DHS) is in the process of developing and implementing a statewide Resource and Referral Tool, in order to assist families with receiving the necessary services to address their needs around social determinants of health (SDOH). This tool will include an SDOH standardized assessment which, when completed, will generate a list of resources closer to the community where the patient lives. It will also allow service providers to make electronic referrals and receive a notification when the patient receives the services.

In order to understand how this tool could better meet the needs of health care providers, we would like to know what you currently have in place to assess and address SDOH needs. DHS has put together a very brief questionnaire (7–8 questions) to receive provider feedback.

This survey should be completed by the individual in your practice who is in charge of SDOH assessments or has the most knowledge about how they are incorporated into your workflow. DHS would like to receive your feedback by Tuesday, June 25, 2019. Complete the survey here.

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RCPA is pleased to report that the long-awaited Outpatient Regulations have been submitted to the Pennsylvania’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC). A copy is available of the final-form annex of the Outpatient Regulations, 55 Pa. Code Chapter 1153, Outpatient Psychiatric Services and 55 Pa. Code Chapter 5200, Psychiatric Outpatient Clinics. Also available is the regulatory summary, which indicates that the final regulations will be published in September 2019.

A few of the highlights include the new requirements for psychiatric time, staffing patterns, and time frame for the development, review, and sign-off of treatment plans. Below is an excerpt from the regulatory summary:

“Previously, a psychiatric outpatient clinic was required to have a psychiatrist at the clinic for at least 16 hours each week and employ four full-time equivalent (FTE) mental health professionals regardless of the number of individuals being served. The regulation amends the requirements for staffing patterns and psychiatric time by allowing 50% of the treatment staff who provide psychotherapy to be mental health professionals and requiring 2 hours of psychiatric time for each FTE mental health professional and mental health worker per week. Additionally, although 50% of the psychiatric time must be provided by the psychiatrist at the psychiatric outpatient clinic, the final-form rulemaking allows the other 50% to be provided by an advanced practice professional or by a psychiatrist offsite through the use of tele-behavioral health, or by a combination of advanced practice professionals and tele-behavioral health, consistent with the OPOA.

The final-form rulemaking allows 30 days for the development, review, and sign-off of the initial treatment plan, and extends the time frame for treatment plan updates to 180 days. In addition to changes to the time frame for the treatment planning process, the rulemaking allows a psychiatrist or an advanced practice professional to review and sign the initial treatment plan. Previously, only a psychiatrist could review and sign an initial treatment plan or update. The final-form rulemaking also allows the treatment plan updates to be reviewed and signed by the primary professional providing services to the individual at the psychiatric outpatient clinic. The primary professional may be the mental health worker under the supervision of a mental health professional or a mental health professional. For individuals receiving medication management services, the primary professional may be a physician, an advanced practice professional, a certified registered nurse practitioner (CRNP), or a physician assistant (PA) prescribing medication within the practitioner’s scope of practice. The rulemaking will improve access to medically necessary behavioral health services, including medication management services, and allow licensed professionals such as advanced practice professionals, CRNPs, PAs, or mental health professionals to provide services within their scope of practice when employed by a psychiatric outpatient clinic.”

RCPA looks forward to attending the IRRC meeting when these regulations are presented for approval. Further updates will be provided. If you have any questions in the meantime, contact Sarah Eyster.

The Washington Post hosted an event recently, focused on the mental health and addiction crisis in America, where Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) joined actress and mental health advocate Glenn Close to speak about the importance of expanding Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCHBCs). See video excerpts below:

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Attention:  In preparation for the end of the grandparenting period in August, OMHSAS and the PCB will hold a CPS Certification update webinar on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at 10:00 AM. Certified Peer Specialists, CPS Supervisors, provider agencies, BH-MCOs, County MH/ID offices, and all other stakeholders are invited to participate in this webinar.  Please register using this link.  After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Certified Peer Specialists Recognized with Full Certification Process

To more formally recognize the value of peers in the workforce, Pennsylvania is moving to a new full peer certification offered by the Pennsylvania Certification Board (PCB). This new formal certification will be necessary to provide Medicaid billable peer support services.

To make this transition as easy as possible for current Pennsylvania Peer Specialists, there will be a time-limited grandparenting process for those who wish to obtain the new full certification during the grandparenting period.

The grandparenting period ends August 31, 2019.

The requirements for the grandparenting process must be met but no additional exam will be required.

The requirements to become grandparented are:

  • You must have completed the two-week peer specialist training from one of the recognized training vendors. Those two vendors are the Institute for Recovery and Community Integration and RI Consulting.
  • Complete the CPS Grandparenting Application and sign and date a Peer-specific code of ethical conduct.
  • Signed and notarized release form.

There is no initial cost to peers for obtaining the credential as the grandparenting fee is being underwritten by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Human Services, Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS).

The new CPS certification will be valid for two years. To avoid a lapse in certification, recertification should occur before the end of the two-year certification period. Recertification requires obtaining 36 hours of CEUs every two years and a $50 two-year recertification fee.

This new formal certification through the PCB is designed to help strengthen the profession and give CPSs a stronger voice, while maintaining the essence of peer support in delivering recovery oriented services. We urge you to complete the process now, during the grandparenting period, to ensure you can continue to do the great work that you do.

REMEMBER: This new formal certification will be necessary to provide Medicaid billable peer support services.

The CPS Grandparenting Application can be found at this link.

Requests for paper applications and/or questions should be addressed to:
Mail: PCB, 298 S Progress Ave, Harrisburg, PA 17109
Phone: 717-540-4455

The following organizations participated in the development of the new certification process:
Pennsylvania Peer Specialist Workgroup
Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS)
Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers’ Association (PMHCA)
Pennsylvania Peer Support Coalition (PaPSC)
Pennsylvania Certification Board (PCB)

The Office of Children, Youth and Families (OCYF) would like to announce that the Pennsylvania Community on Transition State Leadership Team (SLT) has announced the date for its 2019 PA Community on Transition Conference. The conference will be held at the Penn Stater Conference Center and Hotel Wednesday, July 17 & Thursday, July 18, 2019 and brings together a diverse community of stakeholders to share information, explore resources, and gain knowledge regarding successful secondary transition practices. The conference will offer breakout sessions and activities designed for youth and young adults, networking opportunities, hands-on assistive technology exhibits, vendor displays, and resource tables. Topics covered include Transition Planning, Secondary Education, Youth and Family Engagement, Employment, and Social and Emotional Health.

Youth and Family Scholarships: A limited number of scholarships are available for family members or caregivers of a transition-aged youth or young adult with a disability, and high school youth between the ages of 16–21 accompanied by an adult (family member/caregiver). Families are encouraged to apply by completing the scholarship application online on or before June 26, 2019. The scholarship will cover the cost of a double occupancy hotel room and conference registration fee. Meals and mileage are on your own. You will be informed of your acceptance by July 1, 2019. For additional information about youth/young adult family scholarships, please contact Paula Quinn. The scholarship form can be found by visiting the PaTTAN website. If a foster or adoptive youth applies for a scholarship, please email the youth’s name and date of birth.

Contact RCPA Children’s Division Director Jim Sharp with any other questions.

The Center for the Study of Social Policy is hosting a series of free summer webinars for the Prenatal (PN) to 3 community. Feel free to register or pass it along to others that might have an interest.

Webinar: Effective Strategies for Engaging the Pediatric Community, Tuesday, June 4, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm ET by Jill Sells, MD, FAAP, CSSP Consultant. This presentation will help early childhood community leaders more effectively engage the pediatric community in early childhood partnerships that help families connect to prenatal-to-three supports. Participants will learn about common barriers that stand in the way of partnership as well as helpful strategies to bridge early childhood and health. Register here.

Webinar: Early Relational Health: Community Level Strategies for Supporting the Psychosocial Health of Infants, Toddlers, and the Caregivers, Wednesday, June 12, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm ET by David Willis, MD, CSSP Senior Fellow. This presentation will define the concept of “early relational health” and help participants examine new ways to support the functional, emotional, behavioral, and psychosocial health of infants and toddlers and their primary caregivers at the community level. Register here.

Webinar: Reaching Isolated Families and Communities, Friday, July 12, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm ET by Rosemarie Allen, PhD, Institute for Racial Equity and Excellence. Participants will learn about challenges faced by socially isolated or “hard-to-reach” families and opportunities to help more families in need of access to prenatal-to-three services. Participants will also learn about strategies to mitigate implicit bias and implement culturally responsive practices. Register here.

Webinar: Building Strong Local Alliances to Support Your PN–3 Agenda, Wednesday, August 21, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm ET by George Askew, MD, FAAP, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Health, Human Services, and Education of Prince George’s County, MD and Krystal Reyes, Chief Resilience Officer, City of Tulsa, OK. This presentation provides community engagement strategies for sharing power and building allies to help advance your prenatal-to-three strategies and agenda. Register here.

Thanks for all you’re doing on behalf of babies!

Gerry Cobb, Pritzker Children’s Initiative

OMHSAS is partnering with the Gender and Sexuality Development Clinic at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to provide training to Behavioral Health Providers on better serving individuals who are transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary. Trainings will be held in each of the regions as listed below.

Registration is now open for the following locations:

If you have any questions about the registration, please contact CHOP directly. General inquiries about the training can be directed to Jill Stemple.

On May 15, Representatives Grace Napolitano (D-CA) and John Katko (R-NY), co-chairs of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus, hosted a very important briefing in Washington, DC as part of Mental Health Awareness Month. This briefing addressed the decarceration of transition age youth with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) and mental disorders. Key presentations outlined the issue, its impact (including impact upon families), and needed solutions.

Rep. Napolitano opened with welcoming remarks, whereby she decried the plight of many children and young adults with disabilities and emphasized the need to move toward community care. Additional information about the briefing can be found here.