OMHSAS Launches Autism & Behavior Specialist Survey

OMHSAS Launches Autism & Behavior Specialist Survey

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For some time, RCPA has been tracking concerns regarding the Medicaid requirement that behavior specialists working with children on the autism spectrum hold a Behavior Specialist or other appropriate license in order to bill for services. Our members have communicated growing concerns about workforce adequacy, staff recruitment, and access to services. Over the past month, this has resulted in two actions that are likely to impact providers of autism services to children.

In August of this year, Representatives Dan Miller (D-Alleghany) and Marguerite Quinn (R-Bucks), began to circulate a co-sponsorship memo for an amendment to Act 62 that would create a time-limited temporary license, creating a pathway to full licensure, thus addressing the growing workforce problem. This action was in response to issues raised by their constituents serving children with autism and others. The Department of Human Services (DHS) has expressed concern that there may not really be a workforce problem; it may instead be a limited problem, and that opening Act 62 may have unintended negative consequences. Representatives Miller and Quinn have agreed to slow action on their bill pending an alternative proposal from DHS to address the workforce concerns.

On Friday, DHS issued this memo and directive to counties and behavioral health managed care organizations (BH-MCO), requiring them to complete a detailed survey regarding autism services, including:

  • Access and timing of services;
  • Information on individual practitioners;
  • Information on provider organizations; and
  • Information regarding challenges related to staff attrition and recruitment.

This survey is to be completed and submitted to DHS by the HealthChoices contractors on or before Friday, September 11, 2015. Because the time frame for completion of this survey is very aggressive and will be challenging for counties, BH-MCOs, and provider organizations, RCPA wanted to inform members of this action immediately.

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