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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a second Information Collection Request (ICR) notice in the September 8, 2021 Federal Register related to the proposed inpatient rehabilitation facility (IRF) Review Choice Demonstration. Similar to the original notice, CMS proposes that IRFs in certain states would be subjected to 100 percent pre- or post-claim review for Medicare Part A fee-for-service payments until the IRF meets the target affirmation or claim approval rate. The demonstration is set to begin in Alabama, followed by California, Texas and Pennsylvania. In conjunction with this notice, there is additional information that includes limited revisions from the initial December 2020 proposal, including expanding the language from “trained nurse reviewers” to instead include registered nurses, therapists, or physician reviewers and the elimination of some documentation requirements that were listed in the initial proposal.

Individuals are invited to submit comments regarding the burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including the necessity and utility of the proposed information collection for the proper performance of the agency’s functions, the accuracy of the estimated burden, ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected, and the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology to minimize the information collection burden. Comments must be submitted by October 8, 2021.

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry has announced several grants geared to workforce development. Throughout the commonwealth and the nation, there are numerous grants and financial aid resources available that can assist individuals and organizations in meeting their goals.

PAsmart Apprenticeship Grants

Throughout the commonwealth and the nation, numerous grants and financial aid resources available can assist individuals and organizations in meeting their goals. The grants and financial aid information below is provided with the intent to help you begin the search, not an all-inclusive link to resources that may be available. Learn more about L&I’s other grants and related programs.

PAsmart grant funds are used to support the growth of Registered Apprenticeship and Pre-Apprenticeship Programs, creating opportunities in new industries and occupations for Pennsylvania workers to advance along career pathways. This grant program will support schools, students, workers, and businesses across the Commonwealth and reach underrepresented populations, including women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, veterans, socio-economic disadvantaged individuals, individuals who speak English as a second language, individuals who were previously incarcerated, or individuals experiencing multiple barriers to employment. Ultimately, PAsmart will help Pennsylvanians develop the skills they need for the job they want, and in turn, support businesses by creating a skilled workforce to hire. Learn more about PAsmart Apprenticeship Grants.

Applications must be submitted by 5:00 pm on Wednesday, October 13, 2021.

Each year, the Conference Planning Committee and staff work to develop new and different ways to enhance the conference experience. This year, our virtual platform partner Showcare will offer exciting opportunities for attendees to be able to connect with one another. Using your profile, you can choose interest areas, “ping” a colleague you haven’t seen in a while, and directly connect with exhibitors based on your business needs.

Next, in addition to traditional education offerings, we are pleased to include several “thought leader” sessions that will be live and recorded to briefly hear about health care initiatives. These sessions are anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes.

Finally, even though we cannot be together in person, we hope that you will stick around Wednesday and Thursday during the late afternoon hours for some fun, informal networking. Grab your favorite drink and snack and hang out with the public group, or create a breakout room and privately connect with friends.

Don’t miss out – register here!

Although we will miss seeing everyone in person, this year’s 2021 RCPA-MDCBH-A.N.D. Virtual Conference is not to be missed! With general sessions, “think” sessions, workshops, and on-demand sessions, we have something for everyone. We are fortunate to have expert speakers sharing their knowledge regarding leadership, workforce development, managed care, measurement-based care, use of technology in service delivery, and regrouping during COVID-19.

Our speakers will cover all service areas supported by RCPA membership, including mental health, drug and alcohol, brain injury, children’s, and IDD services.

We also managed to work a little fun into the schedule as well – details coming soon! Don’t miss out on this great experience. Register now!

Thursday, September 16, 2021
Start time:  9:00 am
End time:  12:30 pm

This meeting will be held virtually via Zoom. The public is invited to call in to this meeting using the following information:

You are invited to a Zoom webinar:
When:
  September 16, 2021, 09:00 am Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic:  PA State Board of Vocational Rehabilitation Quarterly Meeting
Please visit this link to join the webinar:
Passcode: 815687

Or One Tap Mobile:
US: +13017158592,,81273334764#,,,,*815687#  or +13126266799,,81273334764#,,,,*815687#

Or Telephone:
Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: 1-301-715-8592 or 1-312-626-6799 or 1-929-205-6099 or 1-253-215-8782 or 1-346-248-7799 or 1-669-900-6833

Webinar ID:
812 7333 4764
Passcode: 815687

CART and sign language interpreters will be available during this meeting via Zoom.

Those using a screen reader can connect here.

The agenda for this meeting is below. Anyone who would like to make public comment prior to the meeting may submit their comments via email.

Additional auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Please email your request.


PENNSYLVANIA STATE BOARD OF VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION AGENDA

September 16, 2021

9:00 – 9:20
Welcome & Opening Remarks
, Jennifer Berrier, Secretary, Labor & Industry

  • Roll Call of Board Members
  • Action: Approval of Agenda
  • Action: Approval of Minutes, June 3, 2021 

9:20 – 9:40
Executive Director’s Remarks, Shannon Austin, Executive Director, OVR

9:40 – 9:50
Deputy Director’s Remarks,
Jeremiah Underhill, Deputy Executive Director, OVR

ACTION ITEM

9:50 – 10:00
Action:  Approval of 2022 meeting dates and locations

OVR BUREAU DIRECTOR REPORTS

10:00 – 10:20
Hiram G. Andrews Center
, Jill Moriconi, Director
Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation Services
Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services, Rod Alcidonis, Director
Bureau of Central Operations, Ralph Roach, Director

10:20 – 10:30
BREAK

STAKEHOLDER REPORTS

10:30 – 10:50
Statewide Independent Living Council
, Matthew Seeley, Executive Director
PA Rehabilitation Council, Passle Helminski, Chair
Office for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing, Melissa Hawkins, Director
Client Assistance Program, Steve Pennington, Executive Director

TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION

10:50 – 11:05
Update on 2-Year Modification to the Combined State Plan,
Lee Ann Stewart

11:05 – 11:30
Overview of the Client Assistance Program (CAP),
Steve Pennington

11:30 – 11:50
Update on OVR Policy Workgroups

  • Financial Needs Test (FNT), Shannon Austin
  • Vehicle Modification, Tara Okon, VR Specialist
  • Supported Employment, Doug Rand, Business Services & Outreach Division Acting Chief
  • Audiological Services, Russ Goddard, VR Specialist

11:50 – 12:10
Review of Technical Support Provided to PA OVR,
Rachel Anderson, VRTAC-QM

12:10 – 12:30
PUBLIC COMMENT

12:30 
ADJOURNMENT

On Friday, September 10, 2021, the Department of Health and Human Services, through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), announced $25.5 billion in new funding for health care providers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding includes $8.5 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) resources for providers who serve rural Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or Medicare patients and an additional $17 billion for Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Phase 4 for a broad range of providers who can document revenue loss and expenses associated with the pandemic.


Update from ANCOR:

Get Ready to Apply!

The application will open on September 29, 2021. In order to streamline the application process and minimize administrative burdens, providers will apply for both programs in a single application, and HRSA will use existing Medicaid/CHIP and Medicare claims data in calculating portions of these payments.

  • Phase 4 General Distribution — $17 billion based on providers’ lost revenues and changes in operating expenses from July 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021.
    • To promote equity and to support providers with the most need, HRSA will:
      • Reimburse a higher percentage of lost revenues and expenses for smaller providers as compared to larger providers; and
      • Provide “bonus” payments based on the amount of services they provide to Medicaid, CHIP, and Medicare patients, priced at the generally higher Medicare rates.
    • American Rescue Plan (ARP) Rural  $8.5 billion based on the amount of services providers furnish to Medicaid/CHIP and Medicare beneficiaries living in Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP)-defined rural areas.
      • To promote equity, HRSA will price payments at the generally higher Medicare rates for Medicaid/CHIP patients.

How Can I Prepare?

  • Review eligibility information posted on the PRF Future Payments web page, and additional detail will be added prior to September 29.
  • Search the Rural Health Grants Eligibility Analyzer to see what areas qualify as “rural” for the ARP rural payments.
  • Gather supporting documentation, such as most recent tax documents and financial statements for the second half of calendar year (CY) 2020 and the first quarter of CY 2021.

Phase 3 Reconsiderations!

As we announce the availability of Phase 4 funding, you may also have questions about how HRSA calculated your PRF Phase 3 payment. To promote transparency in the PRF program, HHS today released detailed information about the methodology utilized to calculate Phase 3 payments. Providers who believe their Phase 3 payment was not calculated correctly according to this methodology will now have an opportunity to request a reconsideration. Further details on this Phase 3 reconsideration process are forthcoming.

Grace Period for Reporting Period 1

In light of the challenges providers across the country are facing due to recent natural disasters and the Delta variant, HHS is also announcing today a final 60-day grace period to help providers come into compliance with their PRF Reporting requirements if they fail to meet the deadline on September 30, 2021, for the first PRF Reporting Time Period. While the deadlines to use funds and the Reporting Time Period will not change, HHS will not initiate collection activities or similar enforcement actions for noncompliant providers during this grace period. Several helpful resources can be found at on the PRF Reporting web page.

We know that provider relief funding is critical for health care providers across the country. We are committed to distributing it as equitably and transparently as possible to help providers respond to and ultimately defeat this pandemic.

Thank you for all you are doing during this difficult time.

Additional resources and information can be found on the PRF Reporting web page or by calling the Provider Support Line at (866) 569-3522, for TTY dial 711. Hours of operation are 8:00 am–10:00 pm CT, Monday through Friday.

——————————
Donna Martin
American Network of Community Options and Resources
Alexandria, VA
(401) 965-9411
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ANCOR is asking all members to advocate for funding for HCBS.

The Ask:
Use our action tool to ask your members of Congress to support and fully fund the inclusion of $400 billion for HCBS in the budget reconciliation package.

Why It Matters:
Congress is currently negotiating the Build Back Better Act, the budget resolution legislation that will include an investment of billions of dollars in the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) program. The House version will include just $190 billion for the HCBS program, missing the mark on the President’s promise in his American Jobs Plan to fund the HCBS program at $400 billion and falling far short of what community-based disability service providers need to bounce back from the pandemic and address the ongoing direct support workforce crisis. That makes now the critical time to insist that your members of Congress fully invest in the Medicaid HCBS program. Frankly, if not now, when?

The Details:
The House has drafted its budget reconciliation bill, the Build Back Better Act. The House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is the committee of jurisdiction, will begin marking up the Build Back Better Act on Monday, September 13.

The language in the Energy and Commerce bill includes an investment of $190 billion in the HCBS program. While we celebrate this historic investment in the HCBS program, the level of financing is insufficient to sustain access and stabilize the direct care workforce. A $400 billion investment in dedicated support for HCBS is essential for building a sustainable HCBS infrastructure that can begin addressing the magnitude of unmet need in our communities.

After the committee markup, the bill will be sent to the floor of the House for a full vote in that chamber before moving onto the Senate for final negotiations.

Thank you for taking action now to ask your Representative and Senators to support the full $400 billion in funding for HCBS.