Govt. Affairs

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by Harold Brubaker, Staff Writer @InqBrubaker | hbrubaker@phillynews.com

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled Tuesday that the state Department of Human Services violated the state’s procurement code when a deputy director met in Dec. 2016 with two top executives of Centene Corp. about the company’s bid for a piece of the state’s $12 billion Medicaid business.

The 30-page decision by a panel of seven judges, written by Judge Michael H. Wojcik, came in response to a lawsuit filed by UnitedHealthcare of Pennsylvania Inc., which alleged that the meeting attended by Leesa Allen, DHS’s Deputy Secretary for the Office of Medical Assistance Programs, and Deputy Chief Counsel Sallie Rodgers, was improper and gave Centene, of St. Louis, an unfair advantage.

“We are pleased with the Commonwealth Court’s decision and look forward to continuing to serve the more than 1 million Pennsylvanians who have entrusted us with their health care needs,” United said.

The contract at issue in the court case covers the management of physical health benefits. A separate set of contracts covers long-term services and supports for the elderly and disabled.

The Human Services Department did not respond to a request for comment. It appears that the department will have to start over, for the third time, in its bid to award new Medicaid managed care contracts. The effort started in Sept. 2015.

Tuesday’s decision said the court is “limited to canceling the solicitation or award and declaring void any resulting contract” if it finds procurement law was violated.

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RCPA will keep members informed of any further developments. Contact RCPA Director of Government Affairs Jack Phillips with any questions.

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Licensing, Certification, and Incident Management Conducted by the Departments of Human Services, Health, Drug and Alcohol Programs, and Aging

The Departments of Human Services, Health, Drug and Alcohol Programs, and Aging regulate a variety of health and human services providers in order to protect the health and safety of Pennsylvanians. Among the regulatory activities, they license or certify providers and conduct incident management, as required by state and federal law. The departments are currently reexamining processes to identify opportunities for coordinating efforts in order to streamline the licensing, certification, and incident management process and increase efficiencies for providers and the commonwealth, while maintaining and enhancing the quality of licensing and certification activities of the providers they regulate. As part of this process, they are seeking input from stakeholders of the Departments of Human Services, Health, Drug and Alcohol Programs, and/or Aging on the following questions. These questions are focused on providers, but feedback is welcome from advocates and other stakeholders. Please send responses via email by Monday, April 30, 2018.

  1. Which of the following commonwealth agencies do you interact with for licensing and certification: the Departments of Human Services, Health, Drug and Alcohol Programs, and/or Aging? Please identify the specific license or certificate types you have.
  2. Which of the following commonwealth agencies do you interact with when you must report an incident that took place at your facility/agency: the Departments of Human Services, Health, Drug and Alcohol Programs, and/or Aging? This could include incidents required to be reported per licensing regulations, or home and community based (waiver) programs.
  3. What works well in interacting with multiple commonwealth agencies on licensing, certification, and incident management activities?
  4. What challenges do you experience in interacting with multiple commonwealth agencies on licensing, certification, and incident management activities? If possible, please identify whether the challenges are caused by statutory or regulatory requirements, policy or operational guidance, or agency processes or technology.
  5. What opportunities do you see for the commonwealth to streamline your experience interacting with multiple commonwealth agencies on licensing, certification, and incident management activities?

This is a major opportunity that can’t be missed. The work being done by the departments is what RCPA and its members have been advocating for over many years. We currently have an administration willing and able to make significant changes. Members are asked to provide as much detail as possible in your responses.

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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.

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Rep. Dan Miller: ‘Mental Health and School Safety’ topic of March 13 News Conference

Text of March 8 media advisory.

HARRISBURG – State Rep. Dan Miller, D-Mt. Lebanon, joined by other legislators, will host a “Mental Health and School Safety” news conference at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 13 in the Capitol Media Center.

Spurred in part by national reaction to the recent school shooting tragedy in Parkland, Fla., the legislators want to ensure that any aspect of mental health discussed in relation to school violence is appropriately tailored and addressed in a way that will not increase stigma or reinforce negative stereotypes.

While they agree this is a very important discussion to have, the legislators also want to underscore that too many have fought too hard for parity, acceptance and support to allow the roughly 20 percent of U.S. residents with a mental health issue to unjustly shoulder the blame for all acts of school violence.

Additionally, participants intend to stress the reality that people with a mental health issue are much more likely to be victims of crime than its perpetrators.

Participating legislators will be joined by spokespeople from key stakeholder groups, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association.

In addition to Miller, state Reps. Mike Schlossberg, Tom Murt, Gene DiGirolamo, Jason Ortitay and Judy Ward are among those expected to attend.

Media coverage is invited.

Questions, please contact Jack Phillips.

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State Rep. Dan Miller will host his 5th Annual Disability Summit on Thursday, March 22 and Friday, March 23 at Beth El Congregation, 1900 Cochran Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15220.

The one-of-a-kind western Pennsylvania event kicks off at 9:00 am on Thursday, March 22 with keynote speaker Teresa Miller, Acting Secretary of the Department of Human Services, and includes a Support Services Resources Fair from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm, before the day-long slate of sessions concludes at 8:30 pm.

On Friday, March 23 , the day begins at 9:00 am with keynote speaker Pedro Rivera, Secretary of the State Department of Education. The day includes a 10:00 am to 11:00 am panel with US Rep. Mike Doyle, concerning The Autism Caucus and Federal Disability Policy, and it offers an Employment & Transition Resource Fair from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.

The summit will conclude at 3:00 pm on Friday, following the “Legislative Panel: State Policies on Disabilities,” the last of 20 information sessions on a wide variety of disability-related topics, including special education, financial planning, autism and legal issues, and assistive technology.

The event is free and open to the public, and more than 1,000 attended last year. See the event flyer here. The full two-day program schedule is available online. Questions, please contact Jack Phillips.

Please find a press release below from Senator Casey regarding HR 620:

For Immediate Release
February 14, 2018

Jacklin Rhoads
202-228-6367 (o)
202-384-8989 (m)

Casey Statement On House of Reps. Decision to Continue Consideration of Disability Civil Rights Gutting Legislation

Washington, D.C. – On the eve of a planned vote by the House of Representatives on HR 620, the mis-named ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, U.S. Senator Bob Casey released the following statement:

“The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 as the last of the major civil rights laws. The ADA changed the landscape of the country by ensuring that all parts of communities were accessible to Americans with disabilities. Prior to the passage of the ADA, people with disabilities were often denied access to grocery stores, movie theaters, ball parks, trains and buses. With the passage of the ADA, people with disabilities were assured the rights to access all businesses and services offered to the general public without discrimination.

Now, the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a misguided, mean-spirited bill that will significantly limit the rights of people with disabilities by removing the teeth of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

HR 620 will make it more difficult for people with disabilities to gain entrance to local stores, attend a play, or use a web site. This bill removes the need for a business or any organization that offers its services to the public to make those services accessible until a complaint is filed. The bill makes it more difficult to file a complaint and would make a person with a disability wait up to 180 days or more to gain access to services. That’s a long time to wait for a meal in a restaurant, to fill a prescription or to get a haircut.

I urge my House colleagues to vote no on this bill and recognize that Congress should be protecting the civil rights of people with disabilities, not weakening and discarding those rights.

HR 620 would make the over 50 million Americans with disabilities second class citizens. The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed nearly 28 years ago, assuring the rights of people with disabilities to be treated as equals under the law. I will continue to fight to protect those rights and oppose any legislation that threatens those rights.”