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Message from the Pennsylvania Association of Area Agencies on Aging (P4A):

Addressing Mental Health and Substance Use in PS and Beyond
FREE 8-hour certificate course
Register TODAY!

AAAs have seen the need for improved access to mental health and substance use services at every level of service delivery, especially in Protective Services. The P4A Board of Directors has made addressing these access issues a top priority.

P4A/Pennsylvania is fortunate to have been chosen to partner with the E4 Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Disparities in Aging to address mental health and substance use concerns among the older adults served in our AAAs. We have initiated a State Policy Academy through that partnership, and with that comes this exciting training opportunity.

The self-paced online courses will require 8 hours devoted over two months. The Center for Aging and Disability Education and Research (CADER) at the Boston University School of Social Work provides the training. See the above flyer for the details. Training slots are limited, so members are encouraged to use the form to register immediately.

If you have any questions about this training, contact Lynn Cooper, Behavioral Health Policy Specialist, at P4A.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

P4A Hopes to Join Forces with Providers and Other Stakeholders to Increase Access to MH and SUD Services for Older Adults

Message from P4A:

The Pennsylvania Association for Area Agencies on Aging (P4A), the community leaders in serving older adults, is working hard to improve access to mental health and substance use disorder services for older adults in Pennsylvania. We hope to partner with community providers, Behavioral Health Managed Care Organizations (BH-MCOs), and other essential stakeholders wherever possible to improve access to these vital services now and in the future. The U.S. population is aging. Today, more than 46 million older adults ages 65 and older live in the U.S. Between 2020 and 2030 alone, when the last of the baby boomer cohorts reach age 65, the number of older adults is projected to increase by almost 18 million. By 2030, 1 in 5 Americans is projected to be 65+ years old, and older people are projected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history. Current systems are not prepared for the “silver tsunami” about to hit.

The primary goal of this project is to help older adults remain in their homes and communities and improve their physical, social, and emotional well-being. The consequences of untreated mental health and substance use disorders can be especially grave for older adults. The lack of these vital services affects older adults in countless ways:

  • Reduces the quality of life;
  • Jeopardizes independent living; and
  • Increases health risks and risk of suicide.

This project will improve access by linking existing systems and improving communications between systems. This project will also provide much-needed cross-systems training about the unique needs of older adults and each system’s services as well as identify ways they can work better together. We aim to build capacity by working with Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), MH and SUD providers, counties, managed care organizations, and other related agencies by providing information, training, tools, and service delivery ideas. The plans are to utilize the unique assets each community brings and address each obstacle identified. For example, changes need to be made in the various funding structures, such as Medicare, to help break down funding barriers to access.

A special workshop, entitled “Improving Access to Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services for OUR older adults. YOU Can Help!” will be held at the upcoming RCPA Conference Leading in 2021: Hoping, Healing, Helping. Please consider either attending or viewing the workshop at a later time. If you have any questions or would like additional information, contact Lynn Cooper, Behavioral Health Policy Specialist, via email or at 717-805-8915.

In February 2017, RCPA launched the Physical Disabilities and Aging Division to provide members with information, networking, and opportunities to access Pennsylvania Legislators and Administration. This division advocates for all HCBS services funded by the Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL) and Department of Aging, including service coordination, personal assistance, brain injury, community integration, and employment and vocational services to name a few. It has been a year of significant action and with your support, RCPA is now considered one of the leading associations in the services you provide. Here are some highlights of the past year and why you want to engage even more:

  • The Secretaries of the Department of Human Services and Department of Aging, as well as the Deputy Secretaries from the Office of Long-Term Living and Office of Medical Assistance Programs, presented at the RCPA Conference, providing members the opportunity to get to know the leadership at the state level and to network with them on a one-on-one basis.
  • Quarterly meetings have included leadership from the Community HealthChoices (CHC) Managed Care Organizations (MCOs), with two of them providing in-depth presentations on policies and rollout of this program.
  • RCPA has established monthly meetings with the leadership of OLTL, providing an opportunity to represent our members’ challenges and to advocate for regulatory changes.
  • RCPA facilitated and continues to provide access to trainings to meet the regulations for newly announced OLTL employment services.
  • A new track was added to the annual conference, offering members sessions addressing changes in regulations, nursing home transition, and value-based payments, with the opportunity to earn continuing education credits.
  • RCPA leadership participates in weekly calls with OLTL as CHC is being rolled out to bring forth key issues to be addressed by OLTL and the MCOs.

As we look forward to the year ahead, the need will continue to broaden the horizons of what we share. This begins with the meeting on February 22, 2018, when we will facilitate networking and a focus on aging during lunch. Teresa Osborne, Secretary of the Department of Aging and Rebecca May-Cole, Executive Director of the Association of Area Agencies on Aging (P4A), will present updates and their perspectives on the single largest group served in the Commonwealth. We will also discuss the leadership structure and future meetings of this division.

Your involvement and engagement is vital to meeting the needs you have in these services. We look forward to seeing you at the meeting on February 22. Please Register Here.

The Pennsylvania Departments of Aging and Human Services recently announced an agreement with Aging Well (a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Association of Area Agencies on Aging or P4A that represents all Area Agencies on Aging) to partner on the implementation of Community HealthChoices (CHC).

Under this new agreement, Aging Well will have the following responsibilities:

  • Complete the Functional Eligibility Determinations (FEDs) (via subcontracts with AAAs). Aging Well will conduct the FEDs for participants seeking eligibility for long-term services and supports. Aging Well will also perform the annual in-person re-determinations for people over the age of 60. While FEDs currently need to be completed for individuals applying for the Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL) waivers, ACT 150 program, Living Independence for the Elderly (LIFE), and nursing facility coverage, as the commonwealth begins its implementation of Community HealthChoices, Aging Well will continue to fulfill this role. In addition, as the commonwealth transitions from the existing assessment tool (the Level of Care Determination) to the FED, Aging Well will continue to actively support and facilitate this conversion.
  • Conduct Pennsylvania Preadmission Screening Resident Review Evaluation (PASRR-EV Level II Tool) (via subcontracts with AAAs). Aging Well will conduct the screening for individuals with a mental illness, intellectual disability or related condition, who are seeking admission to Medicaid certified nursing facilities regardless of payer source. These individuals must have the PASRR process completed prior to admission to the nursing facility.
  • Annual re-determinations (via subcontracts with AAAs). Prior to the implementation of CHC, Aging Well will conduct an annual in-person re-assessment within 10 business days of request by a service coordinating entity for all Aging Waiver participants. After the implementation of CHC, Aging Well will review FED assessment data collected by the managed care organizations for all CHC waiver participants in order to confirm annual redeterminations of level of care have been properly conducted. This will be completed as a desk review.
  • Conduct CHC outreach and education activities statewide (via partnerships with AAAs, nursing facilities, and community-based organizations). Aging Well will begin outreach and education activities in July 2017 for the rollout of Phase 1. These activities include 20 public information sessions and training of service coordinators and nursing facility staff.