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Compliance status

We firmly believe that the internet should be available and accessible to anyone and are committed to providing a website that is accessible to the broadest possible audience, regardless of ability.

To fulfill this, we aim to adhere as strictly as possible to the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG 2.1) at the AA level. These guidelines explain how to make web content accessible to people with a wide array of disabilities. Complying with those guidelines helps us ensure that the website is accessible to blind people, people with motor impairments, visual impairment, cognitive disabilities, and more.

This website utilizes various technologies that are meant to make it as accessible as possible at all times. We utilize an accessibility interface that allows persons with specific disabilities to adjust the website’s UI (user interface) and design it to their personal needs.

Additionally, the website utilizes an AI-based application that runs in the background and optimizes its accessibility level constantly. This application remediates the website’s HTML, adapts its functionality and behavior for screen-readers used by blind users, and for keyboard functions used by individuals with motor impairments.

If you wish to contact the website’s owner please use the following email smilitello@paproviders.org

Screen-reader and keyboard navigation

Our website implements the ARIA attributes (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) technique, alongside various behavioral changes, to ensure blind users visiting with screen-readers can read, comprehend, and enjoy the website’s functions. As soon as a user with a screen-reader enters your site, they immediately receive a prompt to enter the Screen-Reader Profile so they can browse and operate your site effectively. Here’s how our website covers some of the most important screen-reader requirements:

  1. Screen-reader optimization: we run a process that learns the website’s components from top to bottom, to ensure ongoing compliance even when updating the website. In this process, we provide screen-readers with meaningful data using the ARIA set of attributes. For example, we provide accurate form labels; descriptions for actionable icons (social media icons, search icons, cart icons, etc.); validation guidance for form inputs; element roles such as buttons, menus, modal dialogues (popups), and others.Additionally, the background process scans all of the website’s images. It provides an accurate and meaningful image-object-recognition-based description as an ALT (alternate text) tag for images that are not described. It will also extract texts embedded within the image using an OCR (optical character recognition) technology. To turn on screen-reader adjustments at any time, users need only to press the Alt+1 keyboard combination. Screen-reader users also get automatic announcements to turn the Screen-reader mode on as soon as they enter the website.

    These adjustments are compatible with popular screen readers such as JAWS, NVDA, VoiceOver, and TalkBack.

  2. Keyboard navigation optimization: The background process also adjusts the website’s HTML and adds various behaviors using JavaScript code to make the website operable by the keyboard. This includes the ability to navigate the website using the Tab and Shift+Tab keys, operate dropdowns with the arrow keys, close them with Esc, trigger buttons and links using the Enter key, navigate between radio and checkbox elements using the arrow keys, and fill them in with the Spacebar or Enter key.Additionally, keyboard users will find content-skip menus available at any time by clicking Alt+2, or as the first element of the site while navigating with the keyboard. The background process also handles triggered popups by moving the keyboard focus towards them as soon as they appear, not allowing the focus to drift outside.

    Users can also use shortcuts such as “M” (menus), “H” (headings), “F” (forms), “B” (buttons), and “G” (graphics) to jump to specific elements.

Disability profiles supported on our website

  • Epilepsy Safe Profile: this profile enables people with epilepsy to safely use the website by eliminating the risk of seizures resulting from flashing or blinking animations and risky color combinations.
  • Vision Impaired Profile: this profile adjusts the website so that it is accessible to the majority of visual impairments such as Degrading Eyesight, Tunnel Vision, Cataract, Glaucoma, and others.
  • Cognitive Disability Profile: this profile provides various assistive features to help users with cognitive disabilities such as Autism, Dyslexia, CVA, and others, to focus on the essential elements more easily.
  • ADHD Friendly Profile: this profile significantly reduces distractions and noise to help people with ADHD, and Neurodevelopmental disorders browse, read, and focus on the essential elements more easily.
  • Blind Users Profile (Screen-readers): this profile adjusts the website to be compatible with screen-readers such as JAWS, NVDA, VoiceOver, and TalkBack. A screen-reader is installed on the blind user’s computer, and this site is compatible with it.
  • Keyboard Navigation Profile (Motor-Impaired): this profile enables motor-impaired persons to operate the website using the keyboard Tab, Shift+Tab, and the Enter keys. Users can also use shortcuts such as “M” (menus), “H” (headings), “F” (forms), “B” (buttons), and “G” (graphics) to jump to specific elements.

Additional UI, design, and readability adjustments

  1. Font adjustments  users can increase and decrease its size, change its family (type), adjust the spacing, alignment, line height, and more.
  2. Color adjustments – users can select various color contrast profiles such as light, dark, inverted, and monochrome. Additionally, users can swap color schemes of titles, texts, and backgrounds with over seven different coloring options.
  3. Animations – epileptic users can stop all running animations with the click of a button. Animations controlled by the interface include videos, GIFs, and CSS flashing transitions.
  4. Content highlighting – users can choose to emphasize essential elements such as links and titles. They can also choose to highlight focused or hovered elements only.
  5. Audio muting – users with hearing devices may experience headaches or other issues due to automatic audio playing. This option lets users mute the entire website instantly.
  6. Cognitive disorders – we utilize a search engine linked to Wikipedia and Wiktionary, allowing people with cognitive disorders to decipher meanings of phrases, initials, slang, and others.
  7. Additional functions  we allow users to change cursor color and size, use a printing mode, enable a virtual keyboard, and many other functions.

Assistive technology and browser compatibility

We aim to support as many browsers and assistive technologies as possible, so our users can choose the best fitting tools for them, with as few limitations as possible. Therefore, we have worked very hard to be able to support all major systems that comprise over 95% of the user market share, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Opera and Microsoft Edge, JAWS, and NVDA (screen readers), both for Windows and MAC users.

Notes, comments, and feedback

Despite our very best efforts to allow anybody to adjust the website to their needs, there may still be pages or sections that are not fully accessible, are in the process of becoming accessible, or are lacking an adequate technological solution to make them accessible. Still, we are continually improving our accessibility, adding, updating, improving its options and features, and developing and adopting new technologies. All this is meant to reach the optimal level of accessibility following technological advancements. If you wish to contact the website’s owner, please use the following email smilitello@paproviders.org

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In the years Pennsylvania has been earnestly battling the opioid overdose death epidemic, many ideas have been suggested or implemented for intervening with overdose survivors. From hard line proposals (go to treatment following an overdose reversal or face criminal charges) to logistically complex processes (embed peers in emergency rooms to facilitate the transfer of overdose survivors to a treatment facility), these strategies have yielded mixed results as judged against one grim fact: exacerbated by Covid, 5,063 Pennsylvanians died of a drug overdose in 2020 (the latest year for which overdose death totals are confirmed). That total is second only to the record set in 2017, with 5,403.

One of the newest initiatives to intervene with overdose survivors is currently under way in Pittsburgh. By addressing many of the shortcomings of other intervention efforts, this strategy employs an evidence-based harm-reduction approach.

In Pittsburgh, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is eliminating barriers to treatment and connecting patients to recovery resources through its prehospital buprenorphine program, a Pennsylvania Department of Health-approved pilot program that complies with all state and federal laws and regulations. Joshua Schneider, an emergency medical technician and overdose prevention coordinator for the City of Pittsburgh, recently testified before the Center for Rural Pennsylvania about the program, which allows paramedics to administer buprenorphine to a patient experiencing opioid withdrawal, whether part of an overdose reversal or not, and connect that patient directly to a telemedicine clinic. The patient then can receive a buprenorphine prescription, typically within 24 hours. This program circumvents traditional barriers, because it offers medication at the point of EMS engagement, does not require transport to an emergency department, and offers low-threshold access to ongoing treatment through a simple phone call. To date, this pilot program has improved post-overdose withdrawal symptoms for all enrolled patients and has resulted in multiple patients continuing treatment.

EMS providers respond to a high number of opioid overdose calls and are a key access point to the health care system for people who use drugs. A large number of patients who engage with EMS following an overdose decline transport to the hospital, creating an access gap that leaves patients without any care beyond resuscitation with naloxone. In 2021, more than 30 percent of Pittsburgh EMS patients declined transport to the hospital after experiencing an opioid overdose, approximately double the transport refusal rate for other call types. While an emergency department is not always the optimal place for a person who has overdosed to receive care, it can act as a resource hub where patients can be connected to substance use treatment and social services. Patients who decline transport to the hospital cannot be connected to those resources. The majority of EMS agencies lack the ability to connect patients to other forms of care and patients who are not transported to the emergency department are often left at the scene with nothing more than a box of naloxone or a resource pamphlet.

Even patients who accept transport to the emergency department struggle to get connected with substance use treatment. While all Allegheny County emergency departments have the ability to administer buprenorphine and make a referral to community providers, most patients who present to the emergency department do not receive buprenorphine or linkage to longitudinal care.

Effective treatment, including medication, for opioid use disorder (OUD) exists today beyond what has been traditionally viewed as rehabilitation. For those individuals willing to accept buprenorphine treatment as a potential pathway to recovery from OUD, Pittsburgh’s prehospital buprenorphine program offers great promise.

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Frustrations mount as many retail pharmacies struggle to meet the needs of the providers they work with and the consumers they serve.

Fluctuating hours, long lines, and cancelled appointments are just some of the barriers consumers face, while providers encounter lapses in communication with vital partners in patient care.

A New York Times article recently detailed the retail pharmacy crisis driven by both staffing shortages and increased demand. Because many consumers are struggling to get the medications they need, providers have adjusted their prescribing methods – filling a 90-day supply for what used to be a 30-day supply, for example – to ensure their consumers can stay on track.

Amid this crisis, clinics who partner with Genoa Healthcare® are finding even more benefit in having a reliable on-site pharmacy team. When a local pharmacy chain closed their doors in Oregon, nearby retail chains became flooded with prescriptions to fill in the community. People trying to get their medications were met with long wait times and miscommunication from pharmacy teams they had never met.

Understanding the challenges in her community, Genoa Pharmacist Shuga Knopp reminded her partners at the clinic that her team could fill all the medications consumers and staff needed.

“I wanted them to know that they wouldn’t have trouble getting their medications from my team at Genoa,” Knopp said. “We’re consistent and we care.”

Knopp and her team continue to develop personal relationships with their consumers, ensuring they can provide the best support for their medication needs.

“People were more frustrated with their pharmacies than they had ever been, and their pain points felt preventable,” Knopp said. “They’re just so happy that they can count on us, and that we actually answer the phone when they call.”

As demand for behavioral health care continues to increase, Genoa pharmacy teams also lighten the burden for their partners’ staff by assisting with prior authorizations, taking on medication-related challenges, and being a resource for consumers in between their appointments. These services result in a more integrated care team and better outcomes for consumers.

Do you have questions or challenges pertaining to the current retail pharmacy crisis? Contact me.

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Almost half of the states are operating Medicaid managed long-term services and supports (MLTSS) programs, but there has historically been limited evidence of their value. To help fill this gap, this report presents updated results from states responding to ADvancing States’ survey, as well as new research on states with MLTSS programs. The 12 states responding to the surveys — Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin — account for more than half of the states who are operating MLTSS programs. States were asked about their goals in implementing MLTSS programs, what progress they had made in attaining those goals, and if they faced any challenges collecting data to document progress. In addition, new research has documented additional value from MLTSS programs in the following areas:

  • Rebalancing Medicaid LTSS Spending. Rebalancing Medicaid long-term services and supports spending toward home- and community-based settings and providing more options for people to live in and receive services in the community was a key goal for all states. Many states have specific rebalancing targets, as well as financial incentives for MLTSS plans to meet them.
  • Improving Member Experience, Quality of Life, and Health Outcomes. All states wanted to improve consumer health and satisfaction/quality of life. While it can be challenging to attribute improvements in health outcomes solely to MLTSS programs, seven states reported improved consumer health. Eleven states said that they collect data on the quality of life; from those reporting outcomes, MLTSS consumers had improved quality of life and high levels of satisfaction compared to fee-for-service programs. One challenge highlighted by states was that the fielding the surveys used to collect these data is time and labor-intensive.
  • Reducing Waiver Waiting Lists and Increasing Access to Services. MLTSS programs may reduce or eliminate waiting lists for waiver services. Seven states said they wanted to reduce waiting lists, while others focused on increasing access to services. Some states successfully eliminated waiting lists, while other states addressed waiting lists through prioritizing applicants by level of need. Some states reinvested savings achieved through implementing MLTSS to decrease the number of people on waiting lists.
  • Increasing Budget Predictability and Managing Costs. MLTSS programs’ use of capitated payments can help improve budget predictability. The programs also have the potential to achieve savings by: rebalancing LTSS spending, managing service use, and avoiding unnecessary hospitalizations or institutional placements. While states report they are “bending the cost curve,” inadequate data are a barrier to states’ ability to demonstrate these outcomes. The state surveys and recent research provide compelling examples demonstrating that states are meeting their MLTSS program goals. It also underscores the importance of expanding the scope and amount of data collected on program impacts. Health plan contracts with strong data reporting and performance monitoring requirements are important tools for states to build stakeholder support and demonstrate program viability over time.

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Photo by Mikael Blomkvist from Pexels

About 73% of the American “Baby Boomer Generation” (between the ages of 57 and 75) hope to receive long-term care (LTC) in their current home. Another 17% want to receive LTC in an assisted living facility, and 2% would prefer to receive LTC in a nursing facility.

About 47% of non-retired Americans and 33% of retired Americans say they are concerned that it will not be safe for them to remain in their home when they need LTC. As a result, only 56% of Baby Boomers believe that their home is the most likely place for them to receive LTC, 23% believe receiving LTC in an assisted living facility is most likely, and 6% believe they are most likely to need nursing home care.

A full 50% of adult Americans feel it is the responsibility of their family to care for them if they need LTC; this equates to 69% of Millennials, 52% of those in Generation X, and 33% of Baby Boomers. About 70% of adult Americans would like to have the option of relying on a family member if they need LTC; however, 70% also would not expect a family member to provide LTC without compensation. A total of 66% are worried that they will become a burden to their family as they get older.

More than half of respondents consider themselves at least somewhat knowledgeable about the options available in LTC. For Baby Boomers, approximately 49% said they were very or somewhat knowledgeable about their options. About 63% of Millennials said they were very or somewhat knowledgeable about their options, and 55% of those in Generation X said they are familiar with their options.

More than 60% of respondents said they were uncertain about costs related to specific LTC options. When asked about the costs for assisted living communities, 63% of Baby Boomers said they were unsure about annual costs, compared with 61% of those in Generation X and 59% of Millennials.

In 2020, the estimated annual median costs of US assisted living communities was $51,600. When asked what they thought this number was, Baby Boomers estimated the cost to be $65,000. Those in Generation X estimated this cost to be $41,379; and Millennials estimated the cost to be $23,467.

About 88% of Americans believe it’s very important for people to have a plan for LTC insurance. A total of 86% said that it is very important to have LTC insurance. However just 25% of those surveyed said they currently own LTC insurance for themselves. Millennials (39%) are more likely than those in Generation X (26%) and those of Baby Boomer age or older (19%) to claim they currently own LTC insurance for themselves.

These findings were presented in the 2021 Nationwide Long-Term Care Consumer Survey, conducted by The Harris Poll for The Nationwide Retirement Institute® in October 2021. Researchers at The Harris Poll surveyed 1,812 US adults aged 24 or over, and 706 caregivers. The goal was to determine trends in consumer opinions, expectations, and planning related to long-term care.

The full text of the 2021 Long-Term Care Consumer Survey results was published December 8, 2021, by Nationwide.

ODP Announcement 21-091 provides notice that the Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment will increase beginning January 2022. Effective January 2022, the SSA increased the SSI allotment by 5.9 percent to reflect an increase in the cost of living. This raises the maximum monthly income to $841 for an eligible individual, $1,261 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse, and $421 for an essential person. There is no anticipated increase in the State Supplementary Payment (SSP) for 2022.

To account for the new COLA, Room and Board contracts should be reviewed to determine appropriate adjustment for those living in homes operated by Residential Habilitation or Life Sharing providers who collect room and board fees from individuals enrolled in the Consolidated, Community Living, and Adult Autism Waivers and providers of base-funded residential habilitation and life sharing services.

SSI is a federal program that provides benefits to adults and children who meet the SSA’s requirements for disability, income, and resources. This income benefit is designed to help qualified individuals meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. Periodically, a COLA affects the maximum monthly allotment.

The Room and Board Contract (DP 1051) is found on MyODP.org at the following path: Resources > Intellectual Disability > Forms. Office of Developmental Programs. Beginning July 1, 2020, the requirements for Room and Board as established in 55 Pa. Code Chapter 6100 must be followed.

ODP is in the process of replacing the DP 1051 form to reflect Sections §§6100.681–6100.694 that providers will begin to use. The current DP 1051 will continue to be accepted as current until the annual due date or until a change requires that a new form is completed.

ODP will be releasing a bulletin to stakeholders regarding the new room and board requirements with the 6100 regulations. This bulletin will also inform stakeholders of the new form and where it can be found on myodp.org.