FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 30, 2019
Medicaid’s 54th Anniversary Highlights Increased Healthcare Access for Pennsylvanians
Harrisburg, PA – Today, Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller marked Medicaid’s 54th anniversary by highlighting the program’s success in expanding healthcare access to millions of Americans.
“Since its creation 54 years ago by President Johnson, Medicaid has had a direct and positive impact on the health of millions of Pennsylvanians for whom healthcare coverage would otherwise be unaffordable,” said Secretary Teresa Miller. “We are proud to mark today’s anniversary and the good work the people at DHS have done in implementing Medicaid and its expansion.”
Since 2015, about 1.4 million people – or one in 10 Pennsylvanians — have been covered at some point by Governor Tom Wolf’s expansion of Medicaid. As a result of Medicaid expansion, Pennsylvania has achieved its lowest uninsured rate on record and has reduced hospitals’ uncompensated care costs across the commonwealth by almost $330 million. Most importantly, Medicaid expansion has resulted in comprehensive healthcare access to more than 700,000 previously uninsured Pennsylvanians who now have the resources they need to focus on living a healthy, fulfilling life. In total, more than 2.8 million Pennsylvanians have access to healthcare through Medicaid.
The Wolf Administration remains committed to ensuring Medicaid remains accessible to any Pennsylvanian who may need it, including the 800,000 who could be negatively affected by Medicaid work requirements. One of DHS’ top priorities is increasing employment opportunities for those we serve, but work requirements are not an effective way of accomplishing this goal. Without meaningful workforce development supports and services, work requirements are just another obstacle to a higher quality of life. Tied to Medicaid, work requirements would achieve nothing but the denial of healthcare to people who need it.
“Our goal at DHS is to implement programs that empower Pennsylvanians to support themselves and their families,” said Secretary Miller. “Meeting a person’s health needs is one of the most important steps to helping them excel in education, training, and the workforce. The Wolf Administration is committed to the continued expansion of a healthcare system that advances services and supports to treat the whole person.”
For more information about Medicaid in Pennsylvania, click here.
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Prior to the July 4 holiday, the House and Senate passed legislation to extend Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC) funding from June 30 through July 14. The bill, sent to President Trump for his signature, can be seen here.
RCPA is requesting members to contact their state legislators and ask them to reach out to Governor Wolf and the Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller, to have them accept the federal extension of CCBHC funding.
The areas in Pennsylvania that have CCBHC facilities are as follows:
Please contact RCPA Director of Government Affairs Jack Phillips with any questions.
(From DHS Secretary Miller)
Effective March 25, Valerie Vicari is serving as Acting Deputy Secretary for the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS). I would like to thank Lynn Kovich for her service to OMHSAS and Pennsylvania.
Valerie has been working in the ever-evolving human service field for over 25 years. Her work has included experience in the children and youth service system and the behavioral health service system, both drug and alcohol services as well as mental health services. Her various roles have included direct service, case management, county administration, and Commonwealth administration. Valerie has been a leader within the behavioral health arena since the inception of the Medicaid Behavioral Health HealthChoices program in 2008. She was part of the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services team that brought innovative behavioral health community programming to Pennsylvania. Some examples of service development include telepsychiatry, Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) programs, Long Term Structured Rehabilitation programs (LTSR), and Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams. As services evolved, telepsychiatry, CPS and ACT programming expanded to include individuals who have both behavioral health issues as well as forensic involvement.
Valerie’s most recent position has been the Chief Executive Officer at Torrance State Hospital since June 2016. The oversight responsibilities include but are not limited to the civil psychiatric services, the Regional Forensic Psychiatric Center (RFPC) and the Sexual Responsibility Treatment Program (SRTP). There are over 300 patients served at Torrance State Hospital on an ongoing basis. In her leadership role at Torrance the hospital has become tobacco free, telepsychiatry has been developed within the forensic unit and numerous recovery focused initiatives have commenced.
People are complex, and their overall health is shaped by a variety of factors, many of which may not be visible or evident based on a conversation. We must equally focus on behavioral health and physical health and their interconnected nature in order to truly help the people we serve. Our mental and physical health do not exist in isolation, and both are influenced by the external circumstances in a person’s life.
You may know that we are working to improve care for Pennsylvanians by encouraging a whole-person focus that includes social determinants of health as well as physical and behavioral health needs. We want to encourage our physical and behavioral health providers and social service providers to work together to ensure that people do not slip through the cracks so we’re able to make a meaningful difference in their lives. Your work can help us move towards better long-term health outcomes for Pennsylvanians who use our services, and I am excited to partner with each of you to meet this goal.
On behalf of Governor Wolf, we are grateful to your commitment to the commonwealth and people affected by mental health and substance use disorders. Thank you for the work you do to elevate these issues and help people live better lives every day.
Secretary Teresa Miller
Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania Senate unanimously confirmed Governor Wolf’s appointments to the Department of Health, Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine; the Department of Human Services, Secretary Teresa Miller; the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, Secretary Jennifer Smith; and Insurance Commissioner, Jessica Altman. Governor Wolf said, “It gives me great pride to congratulate these four accomplished, capable women on their confirmations today. They each bring unique experience to their respective positions, but they share the same passion to serve our commonwealth and its residents.”
RCPA has had the pleasure of working with these leaders in their “acting” capacity, and congratulates them on their confirmations. The association looks forward to continuing our positive relationships and working with them to make major improvements in their respective fields.
See the Governor’s official press release.