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Authors Posts by Jack Phillips

Jack Phillips

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Mr. Phillips is responsible to assist the association with health policy, which primarily includes member communication and advocacy with the Governor’s office, General Assembly, and state regulatory agencies. Mr. Phillips was most recently at the Pennsylvania Department of State as Director of Legislative Affairs.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 26, 2021

York, PA – Department of Human Services (DHS) Acting Secretary Meg Snead today joined York County President Commissioner Julie Wheeler, York City Mayor Michael Helfrich, Representative Carol Hill Evans, and Community Progress Council CEO Robin Rohrbauh to discuss the upcoming end of the federal eviction moratorium and urge Pennsylvanians at risk of eviction or utility shutoffs because of COVID-19 to apply for assistance available through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).

ERAP can help people who are facing eviction pay past due and upcoming rent or pay utility bills or other costs necessary to help them be safely housed. Pennsylvanians experiencing housing instability or at risk of eviction are strongly urged to begin their ERAP application as soon as possible and not wait until the eviction moratorium ends. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s federal moratorium on evictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic will end after July 31, 2021.

“For nearly 18 months, Pennsylvania and the nation have endured the instability, anxiety, and dangers of a global pandemic. The federal moratorium on evictions was a reprieve to keep people safe and housed through the worst of these public health and economic crises, but we must act now and use this historic investment available through ERAP to prevent avoidable evictions and housing insecurity,” said Acting Secretary Snead. “A safe, stable place to call home is foundational to good health and overall well-being, and it is essential as we continue to get our communities back on track and recover from this crisis. If you or your tenants are behind on rent or having trouble paying utility bills, start your ERAP application now and let this program help you stabilize and move forward.”

“Throughout the entirety of the pandemic, our community has faced and met unforeseen challenges with honor and grace. As we continue getting closer to the light at the end of the tunnel, we must be cognizant that certain federal protections, such as the CDC’s moratorium on evictions, will be expiring. Fortunately, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program provides a lifeline for renters, landlords, and utility providers who have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. I urge all those eligible and in need of assistance to apply for the program before the July 31st deadline. If anyone has any questions, please reach out to our office.”

“The Emergency Rental Assistance Program is a valuable lifeline to residents of York County who have been impacted financially by COVID,” said Robin Rohrbaugh, President & CEO of Community Progress Council. “This program is an incredible opportunity for tenants to not only get through this pandemic but set themselves up for long-term financial success. The time to apply for this funding is now.”

The Wolf Administration established the ERAP in partnership with the General Assembly through Act 1 of 2021 to distribute $569 million to Pennsylvania households through partnerships with local leaders. An additional $278 million in rental assistance was directly allocated to Pennsylvania’s largest counties by the federal government, making a total of $847 million available to support renters and landlords feeling the strain of this economic insecurity across Pennsylvania. Counties are reporting data on the Act 1 distribution of funds monthly to DHS that are available online here. Counties and localities that received a direct allocation report on this funding to the United States Treasury, which is reporting data here. In total, $133 million has been distributed to more than 30,500 households in Pennsylvania as of June 30, 2021.

Funding for ERAP comes from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, and further rental assistance funds included in the American Rescue Plan Act were appropriated in Act 24 of 2021 signed earlier this month by Governor Wolf. These resources will be available to support renters soon.

Households may be eligible for up to 18 months of assistance to cover past-due or future rental and/or utility payments. The amount of a household’s monthly rent or utility bills does not preclude eligibility, but the amount of ERAP assistance provided to a household is determined by program administrators at the county level. Assistance can be provided to a tenant for future rental payments, and for unpaid rental or utility arrears that were accrued on or after March 13, 2020, on a residential rental property. Counties may choose to provide additional assistance to eligible households if funds remain available.

Either tenants or landlords can apply for this assistance, but a tenant does not need a landlord’s permission to apply and use this assistance. This program is an opportunity to help ease circumstances for both parties, so landlords and tenants are strongly encouraged to work cooperatively to secure this stabilizing assistance. ERAP is overseen by DHS at the state level but administered locally by county and municipal partners. Pennsylvanians can learn how to apply in their county of residence online.

To qualify for assistance, a household must be responsible to pay rent on a residential property and meet each of the following criteria:

  • One or more people within the household has qualified for unemployment benefits, had a decrease in income, had increased household costs, or experienced other financial hardship during or due directly or indirectly to the COVID-19 pandemic; AND
  • One or more individuals in the household can show a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; AND
  • The household has an income at or below 80 percent of area median income, which varies by county. Income limits by county are available on the DHS website. Resources (like bank accounts and cars) are not relevant to ERAP eligibility.

Applicants will need to provide the following information: head of household’s personal information; income information for all household members 18 and older; rental lease and amount owed; landlord’s name and contact information. If applying for utility assistance, applicants must provide utility expenses and utility provider information.

For more information on ERAP, promotional materials, state allocation program data, and to learn how to apply, visit DHS’ website.

NOTE: Video bytes of Acting Secretary Snead are available for use in coverage of ERAP and are available to download here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Erin James

Capitolwire: GOP Leader Urges PA Executive Agencies to Begin Planning to Reinstate Regulations Suspended Because of the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency

The General Assembly, thanks to the power restored to it by Pennsylvania voters, terminated Gov. Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 disaster emergency in June, which means many of the actions taken by executive agencies under the auspices of that declaration have come to an end, with others on track to end in the near future.

Hundreds of existing state regulations were waived or suspended by various Commonwealth agencies while the declaration was in effect, and even with the termination, lawmakers worked with the Wolf administration to keep nearly 500 suspended until the fall, specifically Sept. 30.

On Monday, House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, sent letters to the Department of Health and the Office of Administration reminding them the Sept. 30 deadline is coming and urging the agencies to be ready to reinstate the suspended regulations, as well as work with the legislature to identify those that could be reformed or permanently repealed.

Within that context, Benninghoff, in his letter to the Health Department, singled out telehealth regulations, stating, “Since your department does have jurisdiction relative to telehealth services provided in Pennsylvania, I want to make it clear nothing in current law prohibits telehealth services from being provided at pre-pandemic levels should the regulatory framework return to normal.”

(Source: Capitolwire, July 27, 2021)


If you have any questions, please contact Jack Phillips, Director of Government Affairs.

By Robert Swift, Staff Writer, Capitolwire

HARRISBURG (July 26) – The proposed $26 billion national opioid legal settlement creates a new pot of money that could help shape state budgets for years to come.

Pennsylvania’s share of the settlement announced last week by State Attorney General Josh Shapiro is anticipated at $1 billion provided in payments over a number of years.

A key factor determining Pennsylvania’s share is how many local governments opt to participate in the settlement and drop their own opioid lawsuits.

The settlement with Johnson & Johnson, an opioid manufacturer, and three major opioid distributors – Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen — is designed to resolve nearly 4,000 lawsuits filed by states and local governments responding to a wave of opioid overdose deaths and addictions across the nation.

The settlement also requires the four firms to take a number of steps to prevent a future opioid crisis.

“This settlement puts in place controls that will go a long way to make sure that this never happens again, and the money that will come to Pennsylvania will help offer and expand life-saving treatment options across our Commonwealth,” said Shapiro.

Earlier this month, Shapiro announced a $4.5 billion multi-state settlement with OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma to settle lawsuits. Pennsylvania’s share from this settlement is $225 million.

The opioid settlements come two decades after Pennsylvania and a number of states reached a settlement with the tobacco industry to address the public costs of chronic health issues caused by smoking.

The new state Fiscal Code (House Bill 1348) establishes the Opioid Settlement Restricted Account from which deposited settlement money will be distributed through legislation. This account is under the state treasurer’s office.

Shapiro said a substantial amount of the second settlement money would be spent on opioid treatment and prevention.

The dollar share for each participating state is determined by a formula that includes the number of overdose deaths, number of residents with a substance abuse disorder, quantity of opioids delivered and population.

Pennsylvania reported 5,172 overdose deaths last year as the COVID-19 pandemic started.

Pennsylvania plans to sign the agreement while local governments have up to five months to sign. Pennsylvania will get its maximum share provided full participation by local governments.

The state/local distribution will depend upon an intrastate allocation agreement.

“The Wolf Administration commends the work of the Attorney General in reaching this historic settlement,” said Gov. Tom Wolf’s spokeswoman Lyndsay Kensinger. “We hope that states and localities will opt into the settlement so that Pennsylvania can maximize the benefits and direct new resources into mitigating the continuing damaging effects of the opioid epidemic here in the commonwealth.”

The Republican caucuses that control the General Assembly already have some ideas for targeting the money.

“The caucus leaders of the House and Senate are working with the Attorney General to determine next steps and how to best appropriate the nearly $1 billion in funds allocated to Pennsylvania as part of the opioid settlement…” said Erica Clayton Wright, spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland. “Based on that agreement, we will identify ways the funds can be used for state and local governments to put measures in place to help prevent such a crisis from happening again while also offering treatment options to communities currently effected by the crisis.”

The settlement is drawing pushback from some local officials.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner quickly sued Shapiro’s office over the settlement saying the money coming to Philadelphia would be too little to address the costs and the payments too slow.

A Cambria County lawmaker said his county should receive a fair share from the settlement since it’s among the hardest hit by overdoses and pill dumping.

“We know all too well the damage these pills have done – everyone in our areas has been affected in one way or the other,” said Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria. “If we’re stuck dealing with the problem, when the settlement comes, we should be getting the bulk of that money to correct the devastation caused by the influx of these pills to our community.”

Cambria is regularly listed in the top five counties in per capita overdose deaths while a 2018 study found Cambria the most saturated county with shipments of opioid painkiller pills, said Burns.

The story with the state Tobacco Settlement Fund could offer clues to how the Opioid Settlement Fund would work.

The multi-state tobacco settlement was reached in 1998 with a main goal of reducing smoking, especially among youth. The settlement placed no requirements or restrictions on how state spend their annual tobacco payments, according to an analysis by the House Democratic Appropriations Committee.

Three years later, the tobacco fund was created under Act 77 of 2001 after lawmakers debated various spending proposals.

The state budget typically sets percentages for distribution of some $350 million in annual tobacco money to a range of programs.

Since 2001, there have been appropriations for such programs as tobacco use prevention and cessation, aid to hospitals, health research grants and Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities and aid to help biotechnology programs to name a few.

The state budget for Fiscal Year 2017/18 authorized borrowing against $1.5 billion in future tobacco payments to help balance the budget.

In 2018, Shapiro announcement a settlement with tobacco firms to resolve two decades of disputes relating to the original settlement. This provided a cash infusion to the fund.

The new state fiscal code creates some new beneficiaries for tobacco funds, including spinal cord injury research, pediatric cancer research and capital and equipment grants to entities engaging in biotechnology research.

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If you have any questions, please contact Jack Phillips, Director of Government Affairs.

RCPA has been notified that a proposal was recently delivered to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) and the designated standing committees of the PA House and Senate for review.

Specifically, the Department of Human Services (DHS), under the authority of section 403.1(a)(6) of the Human Services Code (code) (62 P.S. § 403.1(a)(6)), proposes to amend §1101.51 (relating to ongoing responsibilities of providers). The proposed rulemaking will amend §1101.51 by rescinding subsection (c)(3), which prohibits providers from leasing or renting space, shelves, or equipment within a provider’s office to another provider or from allowing the paid or unpaid staff of a provider to be placed in another provider’s office (i.e. co-location).

The proposal can be viewed on IRRC’s website. The proposal was also published in the June 26, 2021 edition of the PA Bulletin.

The rulemaking has a 30-day public comment period that closes on July 26, 2021. If IRRC has any comments on the proposal, they must be submitted to DHS by August 25, 2021. Below are instructions for submitting comments to DHS.

Interested persons are invited to submit written comments, suggestions, or objections regarding this proposed rulemaking to the Department of Human Services, Office of Medical Assistance Programs, c/o Regulations Coordinator, Room 515, Health and Welfare Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120, within 30 calendar days after the date of publication of this proposed rulemaking in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Reference Regulation No. 14-549 when submitting comments.

Persons with a disability who require an auxiliary aid or service may submit comments by using the Pennsylvania Hamilton Relay Service at (800) 654-5984 (TDD users) or (800) 654-5988 (voice users). Please note that any comments submitted to the Department will be shared with IRRC and the committees and will be posted to IRRC’s website.

If you have any questions, please contact Jack Phillips, Director of Government Affairs.

As we reported in Monday’s Budget Overview Alert, the PA General Assembly and the Governor came to an agreement to repeal the Governor’s PA Overtime Rule. As you may recall, RCPA was part of a wide-ranging coalition headed up by the PA Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Coalition sought to halt the enactment of this onerous rule. The PA Overtime Rule became effective on January 1, 2021, and implementation would have begun in October.

Prior to its repeal, health and human service providers for the past six-months and during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic had to plan to comply with both the Federal and PA Overtime Rules. Under the PA Overtime Rule, RCPA members had to plan for:

  • Raising their employee’s salary threshold on October 3, 2021. In October 2021, salaried workers earning $40,560/yr, or about $780/week, would have needed to receive a salary increase to at least this amount or be classified as non-exempt;
  • There would have been another increase on October 3, 2022. In October 2022, the employee salary threshold would have been raised to $45,500/yr, or about $875/week;
  • Plan for another automatic increase in October 2023 and every three years thereafter (i.e. after 2023, the next increase will occur in 2026); and
  • The employer would still have to show the employee still met both the salary test and the duties test to qualify as exempt.

If you recall, the Federal Department of Labor published its final rule on Friday, September 27, 2019. The Federal rule:

  • Raised the salary threshold from the current $23,660 ($455/week) to $35,568 ($684/week);
  • Became effective 1-1-2020;
  • Did not automatically update or change the duties test; and
  • Allowed nondiscretionary bonuses, incentive payments, and commissions to satisfy up to 10 percent of the salary requirement.

RCPA applauds the General Assembly and the Governor for repealing this duplicative and unnecessary rule.

If you have any questions, please contact Jack Phillips, Director of Government Affairs.

Today, we received the below email from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) concerning the Provider Relief Fund.


Dear Stakeholder,

The Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Reporting Portal is now open for providers who need to report on the use of funds in Reporting Period 1. HRSA is committed to supporting the providers who have received PRF payments in completing their reporting requirements successfully. We communicated with providers this morning and we want to share that message with you.

To aid stakeholders as they support their networks, we have created two resources that contain easy-to-share information like a general email, newsletter, and social media content:

In addition, there are resources specifically for providers:

Provider Support Line at (866) 569-3522 for TTY dial 711. Hours of operation are 8:00 am to 10:00 pm CT, Monday–Friday.

HRSA will host a recorded webcast on July 8, 2021 at 3:00 pm ET to provide technical assistance on reporting requirements for PRF recipients and interested stakeholders. Interested parties can register to attend here. We hope you can join us and help spread the word.

We will be in touch as additional resources are developed in the future. Thank you for all you are doing to help your communities throughout this COVID-19 pandemic.

Thank you,

The Office of Provider Support

On Friday, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed SB255, the 2021–22 General Appropriations bill, by a vote of 140-61 in the House and a vote of 43-7 in the Senate.

The accompanying budget code bills also passed on Friday. The Tax Code Bill, HB952, passed 46-4 in the Senate, 170-31 in the House. The Administrative Code, HB336, passed 28-22 in the Senate, 112-89 in the House, and the Fiscal Code, HB1348, passed 42-8 in the Senate and 168-33 in the House. The final code bill, the Public School Code, SB381, passed 154-47 in the House and 40-10 in the Senate.

The planned General Fund budget will spend $40.2 billion, which includes some Federal stimulus monies. The budget only appropriates approximately $2 billion out of the $7.3 billion in federal stimulus dollars. The state Department of Human Services (DHS) budget line-items are set to grow by $1.8 billion, or 11.7 percent.

While not everyone in the General Assembly was happy with the end product, the Governor is expected to sign the budget bills before June 30.

For your convenience, RCPA has compiled a summary of the Administrative and Fiscal Codes and a breakdown of the specific DHS line-items relevant to RCPA members. As more information comes to light concerning how DHS will spend these appropriations on health and human service programs, RCPA will update the membership.

If you have any questions, please contact Jack Phillips, Director of Government Affairs.