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DHS

The Department of Human Services (DHS) has issued updated guidance on COVID-19 for Personal Care Homes (PCHs) and Assisted Living Residences (ALRs). As the Commonwealth, along with the nation, has obtained additional data and expanded their knowledge and understanding of COVID-19, guidance continues to evolve and change. The revisions to the guidance are identified in red text.

Questions on these revisions should be sent electronically or to the regional office.

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has approved the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ (DHS) proposed minimum rates for each ASAM level of care. The rates are effective Jan. 1, 2022. According to DHS, the behavioral health managed care organizations must increase the rate being paid to any provider currently below the minimum. Providers being paid above the minimum will not be reduced to the minimum.

The rates have been posted and can be accessed through DHS’ website under “Behavioral HealthChoices Provider Resources.”

RCPA will share any additional information on the minimum rates as it becomes available. Please contact RCPA Drug and Alcohol Division Director Jason Snyder with any questions.

All divisions within the Department of Human Services (DHS) recently shared a video message from Acting Secretary of DHS Meg Snead to thank providers for all you do for the communities you serve. Members are encouraged to watch and share it with staff.

As DHS plans for 2022, they would like to continue to recognize our county partners and providers — the dedicated professionals who spend their lives caring for others — and all others who make this work possible.

DHS is collecting stories from providers and caring professionals about why their work is essential and why they chose their careers. Their goal is to highlight the stories of our human services system and how those who make this work possible make an impact in all parts of our communities. If you or your colleagues are interested and willing, please share your story. DHS is looking for:

  • Why you chose a career in behavioral health or substance use disorder services;
  • How your career lets you help others;
  • A story about when you felt like you’ve made an impact;
  • A time you’ve felt proud in your work helping others; and/or
  • Any other story you’re willing to share.

Stories can be emailed to the DHS Press Office. Please include names, county/place of residence, and a picture if you’re willing to share. DHS may use these stories on social media, the DHS blog, or the central human services job recruitment page. The DHS Press Office team will be in touch to obtain consent to use these stories.

Image by photosforyou from Pixabay

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL) is offering a webinar on the topic of the PA Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Savings Program on January 28, 2022, from 1:00 pm–2:00 pm. A PA ABLE account gives individuals with qualifying disabilities (eligible individuals) and their families and friends a tax-free way to save for disability-related expenses while maintaining government benefits. Federal and state law authorized the creation of PA ABLE accounts. The presentation will be given by a representative of the PA Treasury Department.

OLTL Service Coordinators, Direct Service Providers, CHC-MCO staff, and any individuals that work with employment are strongly encouraged to participate in this webinar, which will help you understand the PA ABLE Program and how it can benefit the OLTL participants you serve.

Please register for this event. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Questions about the webinar should be directed to Edward M. Butler, OLTL, via email or at 717-214-3718.

Message from the Department of Human Services (DHS):

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 20, 2021 

Department of Human Services Discusses Spending Plan for Home and Community-Based Services Enhanced Federal Funding to Support Mental Health Services, Children 

Harrisburg, PA — Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) today highlighted Pennsylvania’s spending plan for approximately $1.2 billion in enhanced federal Medicaid funding made available to states through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). This funding will support Medicaid’s home and community-based services (HCBS) system throughout the commonwealth, which helps seniors, people with disabilities, children with complex medical needs, and many other groups safely live in their community among their family and peers. This funding will strengthen Pennsylvania’s home and community-based services system by allowing more Pennsylvanians access to critical services in their communities and supporting service providers that perform this work every day.

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the professionals who care for our most vulnerable, including children, seniors, people with disabilities, and those needing mental health services,” said Acting Secretary Meg Snead. “This enhanced funding through the American Rescue Plan Act will allow employers to recruit and retain skilled workers and allows them to plan for the future to provide training, certification, technology access, and much more.”

DHS received conditional approval of its spending plan on December 1 from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. On today’s call, DHS outlined how funding will be used through the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS), the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), and the Office of Medical Assistance Programs (OMAP).

  • OMHSAS will prioritize funding for workforce recruitment and retention to qualifying providers, specifically mobile crisis mental health services, intensive behavioral health services (IBHS), psychiatric rehabilitation, and family-based mental health services. While many mental health services are not considered HCBS under ARPA, within the parameters of this funding opportunity, OMHSAS also will invest in training clinicians in trauma-informed treatment modalities, technology and training for telehealth, and updating the state hospital system’s technology infrastructure and providing staff training for use of electronic health records to facilitate more efficient transitions to community-based placements and services.
  • OCDEL supported a 3 percent rate increase for Infant/Toddler Early Intervention services, which allows all providers of Early Intervention services, including Service Coordination, to receive a 3 percent rate increase for services. This rate increase went into effect on July 1, 2021.
  • OMAP will use the recommendations of its pediatric shift care nursing work group to inform ARPA spending with a focus on achieving the following goals: improve care and service coordination for children with complex medical needs; support training of private duty nurses; leverage health information technology to allow for the sharing of clinical information; use a value-based payment structure for managed care organizations to improve outcomes of children receiving pediatric shift care nursing services; and facilitate co-training opportunities for both shift nurses and families to help improve coordination, continuity, and support among caregivers.

“When we invest in the caring workforce, Pennsylvania benefits both socially and economically,” said Acting Secretary Snead. “Having care provided in your own home or within your community allows family caregivers to be part of the workforce themselves and it allows those needing home and community-based services to stay safe, healthy, and to thrive.”

More information about Pennsylvania’s home and community-based services spending plan is available on DHS’s website.


RCPA continues to meet with DHS advocating for members on the spending plan and distribution strategies to ensure the workforce issues are front and center of the plan. If you have any questions, please contact your RCPA Policy Director.

Project Goal: To improve service delivery and processes for DHS’ clients, DHS staff, and business partners

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (PA DHS) is launching a website to share information about the ECM system up to and beyond implementation. The website is intended to communicate key information of the services provided to participants and families through multiple DHS program offices, regardless of the human services program or county providing the service.

The ECM website can be accessed here.

ECM will replace several legacy systems across program offices through the implementation of one common solution. By means of this website, users can get acclimated with all ECM subsystems and their functions. The primary pages and a brief synopsis are as follows:

  • About ECM: An overview of ECM, its timelines, goals and objectives, benefits, scope, and project governance structure.
  • Stakeholder: An overview of the participants who benefit from ECM. This will include links to the subpages for the different stakeholder groups, including the Program Areas, County Organizations, Hearings and Appeals, Providers, Service/Support Coordinators, Administrative Entities and Those we Serve.
  • Development: Description of the scope of the project, the technology used, methods used to implement and operate the future ECM, and the phases of the project. The development and maintenance of the ECM system will follow a hybrid-agile system methodology which will be described in more detail within this area of the website. System development involves the process of producing and sustaining an information technology system. It covers technology, people, and processes.
  • Change and Training: Information about the system including training materials, user guides, and schedules. It is key that the stakeholders and those we serve are supported throughout the entire project process.
  • News: Communications such as press releases, news coverage, and announcements.
  • ECM FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions that cover various topics like general information, the timeline for the project, implementation process, and trainings.

We hope that you will refer to the website often as more information is posted while PA DHS and its partners prepare for the initial launch.

On December 6, 2021, the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL) issued the following notice:

Pursuant to Act 73 of 2021, the suspensions of various regulatory provisions under the state disaster emergency declaration were extended until March 31, 2022, unless sooner reinstated by the Department. Effective December 6, 2021, the Department has reinstated a number of suspended regulations. A list of suspended regulations and their current status is available here.

Members are encouraged to review the list for the latest updates.