Mental Health

The Office of Children, Youth and Families (OCYF) Notification Protocol for Formal Licensing Actions and Incidents, is currently outlined in Bulletin #00-19-02 released in August 2019. On October 21, 2019, OCYF convened a meeting to bring together representatives from entities covered within the scope of OCYF Bulletin #00-19-02, to discuss the intent of the notification protocol, and to develop recommendations for improvements to the process.

From the meeting, the following improvements were agreed upon and will be released in new bulletins as described below.

  • A new bulletin will be issued promptly to remove the issuance of a notification regarding removal of staff under an approved plan of supervision. These notifications are no longer being sent. This bulletin will also remove any notifications listed that are duplicative of one another, specifically those that would equate to a citation and issuance of a licensing inspection summary (LIS), as those already trigger a notification.
  • Pending the implementation of CPSL amendments, another bulletin will be issued to include a quarterly report that will be provided to county agencies and dependency and delinquency judges, providing aggregate child abuse and substantiation data for child residential or day treatment facilities, approved foster or pre-adoptive homes, and youth development centers and youth forestry camps. If/when the CPSL is amended to permit the release of specific aggregate data, a new bulletin will be issued that will provide for county agencies and dependency and delinquency judges to receive substantiation information at the conclusion of an investigation, regardless of whether they are the placing county for the child or youth for these same placement settings.

RCPA was grateful to participate in this process and commends OCYF and the systems stakeholders for the collaborative partnership on this initiative The Department of Human Services (DHS) is moving forward with implementing these changes to ensure the safety and well-being of Pennsylvania’s children and youth. If you have any questions, please contact RCPA Children’s Division Director Jim Sharp.

Clinics across the nation are now eligible to apply for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) Expansion Grants, under a funding opportunity announcement released this week by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The National Council has long advocated for increased funding for the grant program. We also have been a forceful advocate for expansion of CCBHCs to all 50 states. Not only does the $200 million SAMHSA will make available this year represent a $50 million increase from 2019, the funding is now available to clinics nationwide – an important step toward expanding the CCBHC model across the country.

The CCBHC program supports clinics in expanding access to a comprehensive array of mental health and addiction services in community-based settings, while improving their ability to coordinate care with other health system partners and collect and report on quality metrics.

Clinics applying for Expansion Grants are eligible for two-year grants of up to $2 million per year. Organizations in all 50 states may apply for grants, though priority will be given to clinics in the 24 states that received CCBHC planning grants in 2016.

The National Council will host an informational call to provide more details about CCBHC status, training opportunities, and lessons learned from prior cohorts. Stay tuned for more details and registration information.

SAMHSA has established a March 10 deadline for grant applications. Read the official SAMHSA announcement for more information on the program requirements.

Our website includes more information on CCBHCs, which remain among the National Council’s highest priorities.

See our blog for more details.


January 13, 2020

Contact: CMS Media Relations
(202) 690-6145 | CMS Media Inquiries

CMS Reduces Psychiatric Hospital Burden with New Survey Process
Streamlined process will improve quality of care for patients

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a streamlined survey and certification process for psychiatric hospitals, delivering on the Agency’s “Patients Over Paperwork” initiative. The full benefits of this initiative can be explored here. This new process will ensure safety and quality through more holistic and efficient hospital inspections that protect patients, while reducing burden for providers.

Currently, psychiatric hospitals surveyed by State Survey Agencies are subject to two separate onsite compliance surveys, one by the State Survey Agency (SSA) for compliance with the hospital requirements and one by an outside contractor selected by the SSA for compliance with two additional psychiatric hospital standards.

Beginning in March 2020, CMS will implement a streamlined process in which psychiatric hospitals will receive one comprehensive hospital survey performed by the SSA to review compliance with both hospital and psychiatric hospital participation requirements, allowing inspectors to take a broader view of a psychiatric hospital’s operations and better identify systemic quality issues.

“The policy of multiple inspections for psychiatric hospitals is emblematic of the absurd status quo in healthcare. For too long, fragmented and misaligned processes have increased burden and administrative costs,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Under President Trump’s leadership, CMS is upending the status quo and forging ahead with practical, commonsense changes to streamline our processes to reduce burden and improve oversight and patient safety, and reducing unnecessary administrative costs.”

To participate in Medicare, a psychiatric hospital is required to meet both general hospital Conditions of Participation (CoPs) and separate CoPs for psychiatric hospitals. CoPs are federal requirements that promote the health, safety and well-being of the patients being treated in these facilities. CMS is not making any changes to these safety and quality requirements.

Moving to a single survey process will benefit patients by ensuring psychiatric hospital services are evaluated in the context of the overall hospital survey program, making it easier for surveyors and the provider to identify and correct systemic quality issues that impact patient care. It also benefits providers by reducing the regulatory burden currently imposed on psychiatric hospitals because a single survey team conducting the survey will conduct, and only one report would be issued documenting any survey findings, instead of two.

CMS is notifying hospitals, SSAs and psychiatric hospital stakeholders of this upcoming change through a memorandum released today. This change does not affect accreditation organizations’ current methodologies for approving hospitals or psychiatric hospitals, or CMS’s criteria for approving accreditation organizations to survey such facilities. To ensure states are appropriately prepared to begin conducting these surveys in March 2020, CMS is developing an online training that will be released soon.

For more information about the change in the psychiatric hospital survey process and to see the memorandum, visit:


Get CMS news at, sign up for CMS news via email and follow CMS on Twitter CMS Administrator @SeemaCMS, @CMSgov, and @CMSgovPress.

We are pleased to offer our members a half-day DSP Magnet™ Workshop focusing on recruitment strategies and retention for Direct Support Professional positions. Craig and Scott de Fasselle are the father/son team who presented two webinars for RCPA members on these subjects. Many of our members who participated in the webinars found them to be helpful and thought-provoking. Now is the opportunity to meet them in person and dive into the topics that are so important to attracting and keeping the staff so critical to our work.

The workshop will be offered twice in order to extend the opportunity to more of our members. Attendees will get a mix of group exercises, individual exercises, and presentations all geared to attracting applicants, improved on-boarding and training experience, and building positive agency culture in order to maintain your best employees.

Date:   Thursday, April 16, 2020
Time:  Session 1, 9:00 am – 12:15 pm  ♦   Session 2, 1:00 pm – 4:15 pm
Place: 777 East Park Drive, Harrisburg, PA, 17111
Cost:   $89 for RCPA members

Space is limited, so please register today in order to reserve your place. Registration is limited to RCPA members only until February 1, 2020. If space permits at that time, registration will be open to non-members for $119.

Please see the event flyer for more information. See video previews below of what attendees get out of our recruiting and retention workshops:

Contact Carol Ferenz with any questions.

RCPA has been notified by the PA Department of Corrections (DOC) / Bureau of Community Corrections (BCC) of a new referral process for Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) or Mental Health (MH) services for reentrants. This initiative is part of a continued effort to reduce and maintain the Department budget, to streamline services, and to offer consistent and needed programming.

Effective immediately, any referrals made to the BCC for AOD or MH services should be made as a last resort. This includes any inpatient placements as well. It is the responsibility of the person making the referral to find placement through other community resources first, when possible. In many cases, reentrants either have or are eligible for medical assistance. Medical assistance will allow a range of services to be funded under their contracts.

If a reentrant is in need of services, reach out to the statewide single county authority (SCA) helpline first. The number to call is 800-662-HELP (4357). A more complete list of every SCA, every county MH office, and their contact person is being formulated and will be forthcoming in the near future. Until those lists are distributed, please use the SCA HELPLINE number that is provided. It can be a starting point for both AOD and MH services, and inpatient beds in the county.

The correspondence from the Department of Corrections / BCC can be found at this link.

For our RCPA members currently providing these services, please contact RCPA Criminal Justice Division Director Jim Sharp and/or RCPA Drug & Alcohol Division Director Kristen Houser to discuss the potential impact on your services.

Registration for NatCon20 is open! Get a head start on the registration rush by securing your seat today. Hear from world-renowned speakers like bestselling author, Brené Brown; participate in discussions on provocative topics like mass violence and the mental health of migrant children; and experience new activities like a CEO boot camp.

To thank Pennsylvania for all of the support over the years, the National Council is offering RCPA members the discount code 2020NATCONPA. This code will give your members $150 off NatCon20 registration.

Avoid the Hassle of Hotel Logistics

NatCon launched an platform to take the burden of hotel booking off your shoulders. This one-stop shop makes it easier to search for hotels by distance, price, and brand, and it includes a map view of accommodations, among other benefits. Please note you must first register for NatCon20 to access this new resource and book your hotel room.

Don’t miss the excitement of NatCon20, April 5–7, 2020, at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas, the “Live Music Capital of the World.” Please note – the first day of NatCon will be held on a Sunday. Registration and housing will open in early September. Contact the National Council directly with any questions.

Pennsylvania Launches ‘Reach Out PA: Your Mental Health Matters’

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today announced a focused multi-agency effort and anti-stigma campaign, ‘Reach Out PA: Your Mental Health Matters,’ aimed at expanding resources and the state’s comprehensive support of mental health and related health care priorities in Pennsylvania. The governor announced several initiatives and reviews the administration will undertake for commonwealth agencies to bolster the effort. Further, over the coming weeks, agencies will announce additional initiatives. The governor was joined by mental health advocates, social workers, educators, military veterans, and cabinet secretaries in making the announcement… [read full release here].

RCPA President & CEO Richard S. Edley, PhD, stated “RCPA recognizes and supports the efforts of Governor Wolf and his administration in reducing stigma, enforcing parity, and improving access to services for those in need of mental health assistance. We will continue to work with the administration on these efforts and look forward to partnering on critical initiatives.”

On December 24, 2019, DHS announced the approval of the Department’s Good Faith Effort (GFE) Exemption application for the Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) implementation. This GFE does not change DHS’ expectations of providers of personal care services to comply with the requirements of the 21st Century Cures Act. The Department will continue with a soft launch period through June 30, 2020. Throughout this time, providers must begin using EVV and complete any integration and certification activities if they have not been completed already. The Department continues to develop a policy bulletin that will outline additional requirements, including compliance benchmarks for manually edited visits. This bulletin will be released as soon as it is finalized.

During claims processing in PROMISeTM, EVV validation against the EVV Aggregator will continue to be performed and EVV Error Service Codes (ESCs) will set without impacting claim payment. During the extended soft launch period, the expectation is that provider/provider agency/Agency with Choice and Vendor Fiscal/Employer Agent billing staff will note when the EVV edit(s) set and actively make corrections either to the data stored in the DHS EVV Aggregator or the claim itself to ensure errors do not repeat. DHS will be monitoring which EVV edits set and how often.

Regular updates to the stakeholder community will be made on the progress of the implementation. Outreach and technical assistance will be performed based on results and as applicable. As of July 1, 2020, any claims without a corresponding EVV visit or any mismatches between what is found on the claim versus what is found in the EVV Aggregator will be denied.

2020 EVV Implementation Timeline:

  • January 1, 2020: All Providers must begin using EVV for Personal Care Services (PCS).
  • January 2020 – March 2020: All Providers must complete system integration activities with the DHS Aggregator for fee-for-service programs. Providers who are experiencing difficulties in integrating and will not be ready by March 2020 are asked to submit an extension request using this form, documenting the difficulties they are experiencing no later than February 1, 2020. The completed form should be emailed to the EVV resource account.
  • Starting July 1, 2020: Claims submitted for Personal Care Services without a matching EVV visit will be denied.

If providers have not yet completed the necessary steps to implement EVV, please contact the appropriate entity to complete the necessary training and system integration activities.

OLTL and ODP Fee-For-Service Providers

  • The DHS Sandata system training is available for providers electing to use the DHS Sandata system. Providers using the DHS system must complete this training in order to begin setting up their agency accounts and security permissions. Providers may register for the independent web-based training offered through Sandata here.
  • The DHS Aggregator will receive information from Alternate EVV systems being used by providers in fee-for-service programs.
  • Providers using Alternate EVV systems should contact Sandata at 855-705-2407 to complete Alternate EVV system integration activities for fee-for-service programs.

Current Community HealthChoices (CHC) Providers and Aging, Attendant Care, and Independence Waiver Providers

  • If providers are electing to use the HHAeXchange EVV system offered by the Managed Care Organizations (MCOs), providers must work with the MCOs to complete training and other onboarding requirements.
  • Providers using Alternate EVV systems in CHC will need to send their EVV data to the CHC-MCOs.
  • Providers should contact HHAeXchange to complete Alternate EVV system integration activities for CHC.

This new report, compiled by George Washington University’s Health Information and the Law project, maps out the current substance use treatment confidentiality policies and landscape in Pennsylvania, and explores some of the challenges impacting Pennsylvania stakeholders. This is a thorough review that looks at how policies have been integrated into regulations and licensing, and how different payers and conditions may change the rules that apply to which information may or may not be shared. This topic will be an area of focus for both RCPA and DDAP in the coming year – please take the time to review this information, and share with your staff.

This report was commissioned by Vital Strategies as an external, non-partisan review of current policies. Contact RCPA Drug & Alcohol Division Director Kristen Houser with questions.