Physical Disabilities & Aging

In today’s competitive health care environment marked by political and economic uncertainty, we need to speak with a united voice to strengthen the public behavioral health system and provide the best possible care to our clients, families, and communities. For this reason, we are excited to inform you that we have recently approved full membership with the National Council for Behavioral Health, which will benefit all members of RCPA.

The National Council supports you and your staff with business development and educational opportunities, insight into national trends related to mental health and addiction services, discounts on webinars and national conferences, and you will become part of a united movement of advocacy on behalf of behavioral health.

National Council offers extensive resources and national expertise in the behavioral health field. Key benefits of membership include:

  • Discounts on registration for the National Council’s Annual Conference and other events;
  • Participation in practice improvement initiatives;
  • Discounts on Mental Health First Aid instructor training;
  • Access to 50+ webinars with tools and resources on a variety of topics;
  • Discounts on Mental Health Weekly, The Brown University Child and Adolescent Behavior Letter, and Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly;
  • Exclusive access to the Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research;
  • Exclusive access to the Member Listserv and listserv archives on a variety of topics; and
  • Featured on the “Find a Provider” section of the National Council Website.

Together, we will attain our mutual goal: to ensure all Americans living with mental illnesses and addictions have access to comprehensive, high-quality care that affords every opportunity for recovery.

Contact Sarah Eyster, RCPA Mental Health Division Director, with questions.

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 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.

In June of this year, the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) established a new Special Populations Unit within the Bureau of Autism Services. This unit oversees the management of the Harry M. Settlement and supports efforts to build system-wide capacity to support individuals with communication challenges. A focus of the work will align with the Everyday Lives recommendation that emphasizes the need to build communication supports for the individuals assisted by ODP programs.

ODP has announced a kickoff series of training webinars presented by the Special Populations Unit in the month of December. These trainings will focus on specific topics related to communication. ODP Communication Number 101-18 includes a listing of the training topics, dates and times, and intended audience; this is the reissue of 101-18 which has the correct dates. To register, click on the linked title of each training you plan to attend. Once you pre-register, you will receive an email with instructions to participate, including a new link to join the meeting.

Questions about this ODP Communication should be directed to the ODP Deaf Services Mailbox.

All Community HealthChoices (CHC) participants have access to emergency and non-emergency medical transportation.  Emergency medical transportation is provided by an ambulance in the event of a medical emergency. Non-emergency medical transportation can help participants travel to and from a medical facility, doctor’s office, hospital, clinic, pharmacy, or medical equipment vendors.

The attached fact sheet outlines transportation options and how transportation is billed and coordinated for CHC participants based on where the participant resides and the type of transportation needed.

CHC goes live January 1, 2019 in the Southeast. To learn more about CHC, take the 30 minute online training. If you have any questions, please visit www.HealthChoices.pa.gov or email RA-PWCHC@pa.gov.

A listserv has been established for ongoing updates on the CHC program. It is titled OLTL-COMMUNITY-HEALTHCHOICES, please visit the ListServ Archives page at http://listserv.dpw.state.pa.us to update or register your email address.

In order to promote improved coordination between Medicare and Medicaid as the rollout of Community HealthChoices (CHC) in the Southeast portion of the state gets closer, the Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL) released a CHC Medicaid/Medicare billing fact sheet. The fact sheet includes information and answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding coverage and how billing works under CHC.

Contact Melissa Dehoff with questions.

OLTL outlines the requirements for Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) roll out and the services impacted by it. EVV is required by Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) in the Community HealthChoices SW and SE roll out zones, effective January 1, 2019.

Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) Implementation Update:

The 21st Century Cures Act requires implementation of EVV for personal care services (PCS) and home health services.  For Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL) waivers, including agency and participant-directed services, PCS includes:

  • Personal Assistance Services
  • Respite (unlicensed settings only)

As shared previously, the Department of Human Services (Department) will utilize an open system for EVV.  This means that providers who already have an EVV system will be able to use their existing systems to submit information to the Department’s EVV vendor.  The Department is using the existing PROMISe™ fiscal agent contract with DXC for EVV.

Providers who do not have their own EVV system will be able to utilize the Department’s system for compliance. Providers participating in Community HealthChoices (CHC) can also reach out to the CHC-MCOs they are contracted with to discuss potential opportunities to meet compliance requirements with the CHC-MCO- contracted EVV system, HHAeXchange.

For participant-directed programs in the OLTL waivers, the vendor fiscal agent, Public Partnerships, LLC (PPL), will be utilizing their EVV system, Time4Care, to satisfy EVV requirements.

EVV Implementation Timeline Reminder:

The 21st Century Cures Act requires implementation of EVV by January 1, 2019 for personal care services (PCS).  On July 30, 2018, the President signed a law delaying penalties for implementation to January 1, 2020 for PCS.  The requirement for implementation of EVV for home health services by January 1, 2023 has not changed.

This delay will allow Pennsylvania an opportunity to extend implementation activities and training, to make sure that providers are fully ready for the implementation of EVV.  The tentative plan for Pennsylvania’s implementation of EVV is:

  • January 2019 – PA guidance will be distributed
  • Spring 2019 – provider training will be offered with phased-in system use
  • Summer 2019 – full implementation of system

Additional information will be shared when it becomes available.  You may also look for information on our website.

For further questions regarding EVV, please email RA-PWEVVNotice@pa.gov.

November 15 is Pressure Injury Prevention Day. ODP Medical Director Dr. Gregory Cherpes, MD released a Health Alert with important information for those who provide care to individuals at risk of developing pressure injuries.

The skin is the largest organ of the body. Skin protects the body by creating a barrier to the environment, regulates the body’s temperature, supports peripheral circulation, and helps maintain fluid balance. Skin also is a reservoir for the formation of Vitamin D. The nerves in the skin provide sensations that detect changes in the environment such as heat, cold, touch, and pain. The skin is made of two layers, the epidermis and dermis, which cover the underlying tissues, muscles, and bones. “Skin integrity” refers to the intact, unbroken nature of healthy skin. Open wounds to the skin, such as those that occur with pressure injuries, make an individual more vulnerable to infection, sickness, and death.

This document provides information defining pressure injuries, why prevention is important, who is at risk of developing pressure injuries, signs and stages, treatment, and prevention of these injuries.

Due to the serious nature of pressure injuries, the pain associated with these injuries, and the additional conditions that may result from pressure injuries, prevention and immediate action at the first sign of pressure injuries are of utmost importance. In addition to skin, muscle, and bone loss, bacteria entering the sore can cause infection. In some cases, infection in the tissue can lead to bone infection, also called osteomyelitis. Infections can worsen and result in sepsis (when infection enters the blood), which can lead to shock and even death.

IMPORTANT: Notify the health care practitioner (HCP) if there are concerns for a pressure wound. Because pressure injuries can have many different appearances, the HCP should be alerted to any skin changes that are noted, particularly in areas at risk for pressure injury. Notify the HCP at the first sign of redness that does not resolve within 15 minutes after relieving the pressure.