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pa department of human services

RCPA submitted comments regarding the PA Department of Human Services spending plan for funding available to home and community-based services (HCBS) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Section 9817 that was due today, July 6, 2021. The document details several overall, cross-system comments for review in addition to specific comments from each RCPA Division; Adult Mental Health, Children’s Services, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (including Supports Coordination), Drug and Alcohol, Physical Disabilities and Aging (including Brain Injury services) and Pediatric Rehabilitation.

RCPA appreciates the opportunity to provide this feedback on the DHS ARP plan. We look forward to further discussion and stand ready to assist DHS as a key community stakeholder.

Medical marijuana buds in spilling out of prescription bottle with branded cap on black background

The Department of Human Services (DHS) and Department of Health (DOH) have issued an updated Medical Assistance Bulletin. The purpose of this bulletin is to clarify the storage, use, and administration of medical marijuana in facilities licensed by the Pennsylvania DOH and Pennsylvania DHS in accordance with the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act.

This bulletin updates MA Bulletin 01-19-45, titled “Medical Marijuana and State Licensure of Facilities and Agencies” issued July 17, 2019, to add two additional licensed facilities, Assisted Living Residences and Personal Care Homes. The previously issued bulletin is obsolete with the issuance of this bulletin.

The responses contained within the bulletin relate only to the state statutes and regulations enforced by the Departments. The Departments cannot make any representations or guarantees about the position of any other state or federal law enforcement or regulatory entity. The Departments strongly recommend that providers consult with their legal counsel with any questions or concerns related to state or federal medical marijuana requirements not specifically addressed in this document.

This bulletin applies to all Facilities Regulated by the following:

  • 55 Pa. Code Chapter 2600 (relating to Personal Care Homes)
  • 55 Pa. Code Chapter 2800 (relating to Assisted Living Residences)
  • 55 Pa. Code Chapter 3270 (relating to Child Day Care Centers)
  • 55 Pa. Code Chapter 3280 (relating to Group Child Day Care Homes)
  • 55 Pa. Code Chapter 3290 (relating to Family Child Day Care Homes)
  • 55 Pa. Code Chapter 3800 (relating to Child Residential and Day Treatment Facilities)
  • 55 Pa. Code Chapter 5310 (relating to Community Residential Rehabilitation Services for the Mentally Ill)
  • 55 Pa. Code Chapter 6400 (relating to Community Homes for Individuals with an Intellectual Disability)
  • 55 Pa. Code Chapter 6600 (relating to Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with an Intellectual Disability)
  • 28 Pa. Code Part IV (relating to Health Facilities)

Department of Human Services Office of Policy Development
PO Box 2675, Harrisburg, PA 17110-2675
General Office Number 717-265-8347

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) has released their report after conducting a review of ODP’s Incident Management for individuals served in waiver programs. The report, entitled Pennsylvania Did Not Fully Comply With Federal and State Requirements for Reporting and Monitoring Critical Incidents Involving Medicaid Beneficiaries With Developmental Disabilities, outlines findings from the review as well as PA Department of Human Services’ response to the report.

The data that was reviewed is from 2015–2016. Since that time, DHS has made many advances in incident management oversight. These improvements include the development and implementation of a more sophisticated IM system, implementation of mortality reviews for all participant deaths, clarification of the types of incidents to be reported, strengthened collaboration with law enforcement, and strengthened protocols for referrals to law enforcement.

The following are excerpts from the report:

What OIG Found
Pennsylvania did not fully comply with Federal Medicaid waiver and State requirements for reporting and monitoring 24-hour reportable incidents involving Medicaid beneficiaries with developmental disabilities who resided in community-based settings. Specifically, Pennsylvania did not (1) ensure that community-based providers reported thousands of 24-hour reportable incidents within required timeframes, (2) ensure that community-based providers and county and regional investigators analyzed and investigated all beneficiary deaths, and (3) ensure that community-based providers referred all suspicious deaths to law enforcement. Pennsylvania did not have adequate controls to detect unreported 24-hour reportable incidents and did not have controls in place to ensure that all beneficiary deaths were investigated and that all suspicious deaths were referred to law enforcement. Therefore, Pennsylvania did not fulfill participant safeguard assurances it gave to CMS to ensure the health, welfare, and safety of the 18,770 Medicaid beneficiaries with developmental disabilities covered by the Medicaid waiver in their audit.

What OIG Recommends and Pennsylvania Comments
OIG recommends that Pennsylvania improve its controls regarding the reporting and monitoring of 24-hour reportable incidents involving Medicaid beneficiaries with developmental disabilities residing in community-based settings. Specific recommendations were made for these controls. Pennsylvania concurred with six of the seven recommendations and described corrective actions that it plans to take or has already taken, but it did not concur with the recommendation that it record the 24-hour reportable incidents noted in the report. Instead, Pennsylvania stated that it plans to focus on recording unreported emergency room visits and hospital stays that contain diagnoses indicative of high risk for suspected abuse or neglect and take remedial action as appropriate. OIG agrees that Pennsylvania should prioritize recording unreported incidents that contain diagnoses indicative of high risk for suspected abuse or neglect but maintains that all unreported 24-hour reportable incidents must be reported.

The full report can be found here, including the response from DHS.

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The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services and Department of Education recently conducted a webinar on PA’s Parent Pathways Initiative. Please see this link for the recording of the webinar. The slide presentations and other information are also available below:

Visit the Parent Pathways Padlet site for more information.

If you have additional questions, please contact RCPA Children’s Division Director Jim Sharp or DHS Special Advisor Caitlin Palmer.

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The Department of Human Services (DHS) has announced rate increases for Personal Assistance Services (PAS) in the OBRA Waiver and Act 150 program. There will also be a rate increase for Residential Habilitation in the OBRA Waiver. These rate increases become effective on January 1, 2020. The new rates for the OBRA Waiver were published in the August 24, 2019 edition of the Pennsylvania Bulletin. The new rates for the Act 150 Program were published in the November 30, 2019 edition of the Pennsylvania Bulletin. These new rates are based on a participant’s county of residence.

In addition, Home and Community Services Information System (HCSIS) service plans were updated on November 30, 2019. Service Coordinators (SCs) do not need to make any service plan updates for this rate change, as a HCSIS system-wide update is being initiated to make the necessary service data updates onto the impacted service plans.

Questions about these updates should be directed to the Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL) Provider Inquiry Line at 800-932-0939, Option 2, Monday–Friday from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm.

The Department of Human Services (DHS), Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL) will conduct the next Managed Long-Term Services and Supports (MLTSS) Subcommittee meeting on Tuesday, December 3, 2019, in the Honor’s Suite at 333 Market Street Tower in Harrisburg from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm. Those who cannot attend in person may participate by dialing: 213-929-4212; Access Code: 524-290-985, or by webinar. If you plan to participate via webinar, registration is required.

Public comments will be accepted during presentations instead of just being heard at the end of the meeting; however, there will be an additional 15-minute period at the end of the meeting for any additional public comments.

If you have any questions about registering for the webinar or require a toll-free number to dial in, please contact the Office of Long-Term Living.