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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.

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2021 ASAM Criteria Skill Building Training Now Open for Registration
June 24–25, 2021 from 8:30 am–4:30 pm
This two-day application-focused training provides participants with an in-depth look at the theoretical foundations of the Criteria, including clinically driven services, bio-psychosocial assessment, the six dimensions, continued stay, and transfer/discharge criteria. Incorporating the use of the new edition of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) Criteria, participants have opportunities for skill practice at every stage of the treatment process: assessment, engagement, treatment planning, continuing care, and transfer or discharge.

NHSC Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program
To combat the nation’s opioid crisis, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) launched the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program. The program supports the recruitment and retention of health professionals needed in underserved areas to expand access to SUD treatment and prevent overdose deaths. Application Submission Deadline is Thursday, May 6, 2021, 7:30 pm ET.

Capitolwire: Senate Appropriations Chair Browne Says Governor’s Proposed Budget Doesn’t Do Much About PA’s Structural Deficit; Need More Thought About How to Best Use State’s Assets and Improve Productivity

By Chris Comisac, Bureau Chief, Capitolwire

HARRISBURG (April 23) — The state Senate Appropriations Committee closed the book on another year of state budget hearings Thursday, with one of the more interesting observations made during the multiple weeks of hearings coming on Thursday from committee majority chair Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, during his closing comments.

With all the talk by Gov. Tom Wolf and his administration about the need to raise taxes, including a 46-percent hike of the state Personal Income Tax, to make more “investments” as well as address the commonwealth’s structural deficit, Browne noted the governor’s plan, ultimately, doesn’t do much about the deficit.

Browne, pointing to information supplied to his committee by the Wolf administration and that it differentiates from Senate GOP appropriations financial data, acknowledged that for about two years the increased revenue from the PIT hike would help with the deficit, but by Fiscal Year 2023-24, the deficit retuned because of continued growth of state spending.

“Taking us out to post-stimulus year [Fiscal year] 2023-24, the growth of expenditures [being] $591 million above the projections that you had provided us – this is a point for us to talk about in terms of our different assumptions – puts us again in fiscal deficit in that year, notwithstanding the fact that we’ve increase our Personal Income Tax by 46 percent,” said Browne. “So, it’s [PIT hike] not a one-time solution. It takes us through a couple years, but it’s just a couple-years solution.”

“At the end of the day, we go through this process of greatly increasing our revenue capacity – I would argue by potentially sacrificing our competitive position – but only taking us two years out to still be in fiscal deficit,” Browne continued. “That leads us to a conversation of where do we go? How do we solve this challenge? Because if it’s just the growth of mandatory expenditures that we want to fulfill for the people for whom we want to fulfill, even with the proposal you’re presenting on behalf of the chief executive, we’re not solving the fiscal challenge.”

Browne noted that some will say the solution is to increase revenue again through additional taxation, but he said it’s his belief there comes a point when taxation begins to produce diminishing returns – lower revenue – even with higher tax rates.

Pointing to Pennsylvania’s growing demographic issues – the state is becoming older with fewer people of working age, meaning more government spending for the state’s aging population but less productivity, and consequently available tax revenue, to pay for that spending due to fewer workers – Browne said, “We’ve got bigger problems to address.”

He said he doesn’t have a solution, but added, “The only thing that I can think we need to work on is how do we use Pennsylvania’s enormous inventory of valuable assets that we have available to us – our higher education institutions, our natural [resource] assets, our cultural assets, diversity – all the things that we have – to maximize their value to increase productivity.”

The state’s revenue picture has improved dramatically from prior estimates – as of the end of March, the state is $1.3 billion ahead of revenue estimates – thanks in large part to the various COVID-19 federal stimulus packages implemented during the past several months, and those figures do not include the potential impacts from the latest $1.9 trillion federal stimulus, of which Pennsylvania state government is expected to get $7.3 billion (with local governments to get another nearly $6 billion).

While some lawmakers argue the federal stimulus dollars should not be used as an excuse to avoid raising taxes to address what they say are the state’s spending needs as well as the structural deficit, others have argued that as the state’s economy and many businesses are still emerging from a COVID-19 environment – with the state still having 319,000 fewer people working than a year ago, and 369,200 fewer available jobs – it’s counterproductive to put on the economy and employers additional fiscal burdens, such as the proposed PIT hike, a new natural gas severance tax, combined profits reporting for the purposes of determining corporation taxes, a substantial hike of the minimum wage and the continued pursuit of a carbon tax on the state’s electricity producers as part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

The current fiscal year ends on June 30, with the new one to start on July 1.

The following grant opportunities are now open in the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) Egrants System:

Funding Announcement Title: 2021 Drug Court and Pretrial Diversion Initiative
Plan Year: 2020
Release Date: 4/15/2021
Due Date: 6/15/2021
Concept Papers Required: No
Competitive/Noncompetitive: Competitive
Amount Announced: $2,000,000.00

Funding Announcement Title: 2021 County Jail-Based MAT Program
Plan Year: 2020
Release Date: 4/15/2021
Due Date: 6/15/2021
Concept Papers Required: No
Competitive/Noncompetitive: Competitive
Amount Announced: $2,000,000.00

You must be registered with PCCD to access the Egrants System. If you are not registered, go to the PCCD Egrants website and select Register. Once your registration is accepted, select the Login button. Enter the User ID and Password established when you registered, and log into the system through the Egrants Production link. Then you will see the User Management Profile Details page. You must save this information in order to access the system.

Photo by Alena Shekhovtcova from Pexels

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
April 15, 2021 

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Health today notified all COVID-19 vaccine providers that the pause in administering doses of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine will be extended until April 24 or until updated guidance is provided from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Earlier this week, the department recommended a pause in administering Johnson & Johnson vaccine until April 20 to give the CDC and FDA time to review six incidents of rare blood clots that occurred within two weeks of receiving Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices held an emergency meeting yesterday that ended without taking a vote to change the current recommendation to pause administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Another meeting is expected within 10 days.

During the meeting, the CDC acknowledged that one of the six cases being studied involves a 26-year-old Pennsylvania woman who recovered after treatment at a New Jersey hospital. The CDC is not releasing personal information in the case. These six cases occurred in women between 18 and 48 who were among the 6.8 million Americans who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Out of the more than 6.6 million vaccine doses that have been administered in Pennsylvania, only 247,063 doses have been Johnson & Johnson.

This announcement shows that the federal oversight process of a vaccine’s safety and effectiveness is working, and all steps are being taken to protect Americans. “The safety procedures built into the vaccination process are working and should instill confidence in the safety and effectiveness of the available COVID-19 vaccines,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “I urge individuals who have appointments scheduled to receive a Pfizer or Moderna vaccination to keep those appointments.”

People who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks of their vaccination should contact their health care provider. For more information, please see the CDC/FDA guidance.

The department also has sent communications to stakeholder groups and others who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as a part of a special vaccination initiative.

While vaccine supply from the federal government remains limited, the Department of Health is working to ensure the vaccine is provided in a way that is ethical, equitable and efficient. To keep Pennsylvanians informed about vaccination efforts:

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
  • If you must go out, you are required to wear a mask when in a business or where it is difficult to maintain proper social distancing.
  • Download the COVID Alert PA app and make your phone part of the fight. The free app can be found in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store by searching for “COVID alert pa”.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

MEDIA CONTACT:  Barry Ciccocioppo

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 15, 2021

Harrisburg, PA –
Governor Wolf today announced a partnership developed by the departments of Human Services and Corrections that will better connect people who are being released from state correctional institutions with opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment, by connecting them to treatment through one of Pennsylvania’s Centers of Excellence (COE).

“When elected, I challenged the Administration to break down silos throughout government and put Pennsylvanians first,” said Gov. Wolf. “This cross-agency partnership will help individuals obtain the necessary services to support their journey after incarceration. By ensuring reentrants have continued access to opioid use disorder treatment we reduce the risk of overdoses as they reenter society.”

“Connecting people to treatment that addresses opioid use disorder is critical in saving lives, and we are proud to work with the Department of Corrections to better facilitate treatment for formerly incarcerated individuals,” said Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller. “The Wolf Administration remains committed to saving lives and helping all people suffering from opioid use disorder get the treatment they need to put them on the path to recovery.”

Individuals who are incarcerated in a state correctional institution who have OUD may receive medication assisted treatment while they are incarcerated, which helps move them toward recovery during their time of incarceration. It is critical for these individuals to have continued access to these prescribed medications upon release in order to maintain their recovery progress.

This partnership will ensure DOC social workers have the appropriate connections through COE staff to connect reentrants with treatment centers across the commonwealth who have demonstrated a commitment to working with returning citizens. This process will provide a seamless transition into community-based treatments, as risk of fatal overdose is high in the weeks immediately following a person’s release from a correctional institution.

“I am immensely excited about this streamlined pathway,” said PA Department of Correction’s (DOC) Medication Assisted Treatment Statewide Coordinator Steve Seitchik. “Reentrants will have access to FDA-approved medications for Opioid Use Disorder, psychosocial interventions, and referral mechanisms from the Centers of Excellence to various community-based providers with systematic follow-up and adjustment of the reentrant’s care plan if they are not improving as expected.”

Traditionally, because formerly incarcerated individuals may be released into different communities with a variety of treatment providers, DOC social workers have had to navigate a different protocol for each provider. A lack of clarity about roles, information, and timelines complicated these referrals and, in the worst cases, resulted in a lapse in care for the individual being released.

For more information, visit the DHS website.

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Lyndsay Kensinger, Governor’s Office,
Erin James, Human Services
Maria Bivens, Corrections

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force announced that effective tomorrow, Tuesday, April 13, all Pennsylvania adults will be eligible to schedule an appointment for the COVID -19 vaccine.

“We need to maintain acceleration of the vaccine rollout, especially as case counts and hospitalization rates have increased,” Gov. Wolf said. “Therefore, just as President Biden has brought forward universal adult access to vaccines from May 1 to April 19, we are moving Pennsylvania’s timeline of universal adult access to April 13.”

The Department of Health noted that there is ongoing appointment availability in many parts of the state even as Phase 1A and B continue and 1C begins today. With the change in eligibility, those in Phase 2 will become eligible, opening up vaccines to all. Our ongoing initiative with the Area Agencies on Aging to provide assistance to vulnerable seniors for accessing vaccine will continue, as will our other equity initiatives.

“Everyone needs and should be afforded the opportunity to access the vaccine as soon as possible,” Acting Sec. of Health Alison Beam said. “And, this change provides earlier access for many, including college students increasing the likelihood of completion of two-dose regimens prior to leaving campus for the summer. It also means simpler, streamlined operations for vaccine providers that no longer need to check eligibility of people making appointments.”

To date, Pennsylvania providers have administered more than 6 million vaccines and the state is ranked among the top 20 states for first-dose vaccinations. More than 2.4 million Pennsylvanians are fully vaccinated.

Pennsylvanians can find providers on the COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Map here.

“Please get vaccinated,” said Sen. Art Haywood.

“It is precisely the bipartisan cooperation of this Joint Task Force coupled with the tremendous work of our provider network that has allowed our Commonwealth to make rapid progress in our vaccine rollout, now expanding eligibility so that every Pennsylvanian who wants to be vaccinated has the opportunity to do so immediately,” said Sen. Ryan Aument. “Because we have maintained our commitment to residents within phases 1A and 1B, we can now further accelerate the rollout and protect our communities, particularly by ensuring that college students can be vaccinated before returning home to their families for the summer.”

“The administration, our task force, and all of our local providers have collaborated together to achieve the goal put forth by President Biden,” said Rep. Bridget Kosierowski. “With the number of COVID-19 positive cases continuing to rise some areas of our state, it is imperative that everyone who wants to schedule an appointment for a vaccine can  have that opportunity to do so.“

“I’m pleased we are able to speed up eligibility so that all Pennsylvanians who want a vaccine can schedule one,” Rep. Tim O’Neal said. “Western Pennsylvania has hosted a number of vaccine clinics in recent days where supply has outstripped demand. We were able to get approval to expand eligibility at one of these clinics, but it only makes sense to open vaccinations to all. The work of the task force has shown when all parties work in a collaborative fashion, we can accomplish a lot in a short timeframe.”

“This further-accelerated plan will move us much closer to the goal of vaccinating Pennsylvanians as quickly and equitably as possible,” Gov. Wolf said.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Lyndsay Kensinger, Governor’s Office
Barry Ciccocioppo, Health