Medical Rehab

Effective January 15, 2020, the Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL) has revised its guidance regarding the temporary changes to the Act 150 Program and the OBRA waiver in response to COVID-19. The revised guidance documents rescind and replace the guidance dated May 8, 2020. They also clarify flexibilities that remain available through March 5, 2021 or another date determined by OLTL.

On Tuesday, January 12, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule that propels innovative technology so that Medicare beneficiaries have access to the latest, most advanced devices. This action represents a step forward that will help smooth the Medicare coverage pathway for innovative products, resulting in faster access to new devices for America’s seniors.

The final rule will provide the nation’s more than 60 million Medicare beneficiaries with access to the latest medical technology at a faster rate than ever. Under current rules, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of a device is followed by an often lengthy and costly process for Medicare coverage. The lag time between the two results in innovators first spending time and resources on FDA approval and then subsequently spending time on the Medicare coverage process. This causes undue burden for innovators and could delay access to these potentially life-saving technologies during the existing Medicare coverage determination process.

Read the press release here.

The US Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) report, led in collaboration with ASPE’s Office of Health Policy, provides potential approaches to expand and strengthen the entry-level health-care workforce in the United States with a primary focus on the following occupational categories: licensed practical nurses, medical assistants, dental assistants, hygienists, home health aides, certified nursing assistants, and personal care aides, community health workers, and peer specialists.

This report was conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the pandemic has had a significant impact on these front-line workers, has reinforced their importance, and has revealed new opportunities going forward.

Read the brief here.

The Certified Employment Support Professional (CESP) Examination will continue to be available at in-person testing sites with a new testing partner, Kryterion. To provide a fair and consistent environment for all candidates, the exam is delivered using standardized procedures. It also follows strict protocols.

Access Kryterion Support where there is 24/7 help with scheduling, technology, and examination support.

All testing centers have social-distancing protocols in place and are taking extra measures to ensure cleanliness and safety.

Testing centers will also provide you with a computer, have a reliable internet connection, and will have the software downloaded to the computer.

The plan is to make virtual proctoring available beginning in March 2021!

Online proctoring (OLP) will be a convenient option for test takers who have the space and technology to test from their homes or offices.

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

January 14, 2021

Harrisburg, PA – As part of the Wolf Administration’s effort to roll out the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, Governor Tom Wolf has approved a temporary waiver that allows pharmacists licensed by the Department of State to order and administer COVID-19 vaccines without a physician’s order when vaccines are available to the public. Adding pharmacists to the health-care professionals administering COVID-19 vaccines expands options for Pennsylvanians to be immunized once the vaccine is widely available from the federal government.

“Pharmacists, as well as pharmacy interns and technicians, are critical partners in the commonwealth’s plan to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine,” Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said. “Many Pennsylvanians will go to their local pharmacy for vaccination. This waiver will enable pharmacies to offer the COVID-19 vaccines without a physician’s order.”

Pennsylvania pharmacists, who meet certain training and other requirements, can obtain authorization to administer injectable medications, biologicals, and immunizations. If a pharmacist has that authorization, he or she can administer any immunization, including COVID-19 immunizations, to persons 18 years of age or older.

Historically, some pharmacies have entered into arrangements with physicians in order to receive reimbursement for flu shots and other vaccinations. Many pharmacies, however, do not have an arrangement with a physician, and even those that do have not had time to incorporate the COVID-19 vaccination into that relationship. This waiver would allow pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 vaccine without such a provider agreement.

“We are working on ways to increase access to the vaccine, and pharmacists already play an important role in making sure Pennsylvanians are protected,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Pennsylvanians continue to play an essential role in preventing the spread of COVID-19 by masking up, washing up, and socially distancing.”

This waiver applies solely to COVID-19 vaccines for the duration of the Governor’s Disaster Emergency Declaration plus 90 days.

For more information about the Department of State’s COVID-19 response, visit the Department of State website.


Wanda Murren, 717-783-1621

April Hutcheson

The 2021 RCPA Conference, Leading in 2021: Hope, Help, Heal, will tentatively be held as a hybrid event. As the COVID-19 pandemic permits, it will take place both at the Hershey Lodge as well as virtually. Since this is a premier statewide event, the Conference Committee is seeking workshop proposals for possible inclusion. The conference offers diverse educational opportunities, and submissions are needed in every area. A complete listing of focus tracks is available on the proposal form. Last year, many submissions were unable to be utilized due to the pandemic and the shift from an in-person to virtual format.

Presentations that assist providers in developing and maintaining quality, effective treatments, services, and agencies in an industry where change is constant are encouraged. The committee looks for presentations which:

  • Highlight new policy, research, and treatment initiatives;
  • Provide specific skills and information related to individual and organizational leadership development and enhancement;
  • Address system changes that affect business practices such as value-based purchasing; and
  • Offer concrete skills and tools to operate more efficient, effective agencies in a pandemic and post-pandemic arena.

Workshop ideas for 2021 include:

  • Strategies for Effective Teleintervention;
  • Assessing Abuse and Neglect in a Virtual Encounter;
  • The Impact of the Pandemic on Child Welfare/Abuse/Neglect;
  • Coping with Grief and Loss;
  • Preventing/Mitigating Provider Burnout;
  • Family and Caregiver Engagement;
  • Strategies to Combat the Impact of Screen-Time Fatigue (Telework, Virtual School, Virtual Socialization);
  • DEI Topics – Assessing Implicit Bias, Overcoming Implicit Bias, How to Develop a DEI Plan;
  • The PH-BH Interface – Finding Common Ground to Treat the Whole Person;
  • Ongoing Workforce Shortage Solutions;
  • The Changing Health-Care Landscape During and Post Pandemic;
  • Managing Human Capital/Resources Virtually;
  • Integrated Care Strategies for Implementation and Reimbursement;
  • Managed Care Models for People with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities;
  • Remote Services/Use of Technology in all Types of Support Services for Individuals with IDD;
  • Ethics Topics Across the Membership;
  • Emergency Planning for Community Violence;
  • Acquisitions/Mergers and Consolidations;
  • Value-Based Purchasing; and
  • Employing People with Disabilities.

The committee welcomes any proposal that addresses these and other topics essential to the rehabilitation, mental health, addiction, children’s, aging, intellectual and developmental disability, and physical disability communities. Members are encouraged to consider submitting proposals and to forward this opportunity to those who are exceptionally good speakers and who have state-of-the-art information to share.

The Call for Proposals and accompanying “Guidelines for Developing Educational Objectives” outline requirements for submissions. The deadline for submissions is Monday, February 22 at 5:00 pm. Proposals must be submitted electronically to Sarah Eyster on the form provided. Confirmation of receipt will be sent. Proposals submitted after the deadline will not be considered.

Proposals selected stand out by inclusion of solid learning objectives, information that a participant can use to enhance professional skills or methods, and ability to engage a diverse and advanced audience. If the proposal is accepted, individuals must be prepared to present on any day of the conference. Workshops are 60–75 minutes in length for a single session or 120–150 minutes in length for a double session. At the time of acceptance, presenters will be required to confirm the ability to submit workshop handouts electronically four weeks prior to the conference.

Individuals are welcome to submit multiple proposals. Notification of inclusion will be made via email by May 10. Questions may be directed to Sarah Eyster, Conference Coordinator.

Together, New York Life and Cigna, through our foundations, created the Brave of Heart Fund, which is dedicated to providing health-care workers and their families with peace of mind. The fund is designed to provide financial support in the form of charitable relief grants to support the families of health-care workers who lose their lives to COVID-19.

In addition, Cigna Behavioral Health will provide emotional support and services.

If you have lost a family member who is a health-care worker to COVID-19, please verify your eligibility to apply for a Brave of Heart Fund grant now.