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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 Wolf Administration has launched the Pennsylvania Link to Community Care website, which connects older Pennsylvanians and individuals with a disability or behavioral health need to services and supports available in their community.

The website provides users with a wide variety of resources, including a home care directory and an information referral tool. It is a collaboration of the departments of Aging (PDA) and Human Services (DHS), and is an extension of PDA’s Aging and Disability Resource call center. By providing assistance online, the initiative further enhances the Commonwealth’s efforts to help Pennsylvanians locate and best utilize services at the local level.

The site features 12 service and support categories: Advocacy, Behavioral Health, Employment, Finance, Health Care, Housing, In-Home Services, Legal, Meals, Protection from Abuse, Support Groups, and Transportation.

Users can find information about organizations, services, and programs within these categories. A major component to the site is the home care directory, which connects individuals to in-home services available in their counties. In-home service providers appearing on the searchable directory may offer personal care, assistance with activities of daily living, companionship services, respite care, and/or habilitation services.

If you are an in-home service provider licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and would like to appear on the home care directory, you may submit your information by navigating to the footer of the site and selecting “Apply.”

In addition to the home care directory, another major feature of the website is the information referral tool. This tool guides users through a series of questions and then provides a list of resources based on their specific needs.

Moving forward, the departments of Aging and Human Services will continue to enhance the website using data and feedback from users, and expand the resources and information provided through the site. This includes working with your organization and other stakeholders to increase the number of options appearing within each category. Read the press release here.

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This just in from the governor’s office:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 30, 2017
View Online 

Governor Wolf Announces Plan to Create Department of Health and Human Services

Seeks to Improve Services and Benefits for Seniors, People with Intellectual and Physical Disabilities, and Those Suffering From Substance Use Disorder

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Wolf announced his plan to create a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in his 2017-2018 budget in order to promote more effective collaboration and service delivery, enhance program effectiveness, and eliminate duplicative processes.

“This new department will streamline government and allow the commonwealth to deliver more effective services to seniors, individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities, and those suffering from a substance use disorder as well as promote the health and well-being of all Pennsylvanians,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “Over the past several months, I have worked closely with these four departments to break down silos and reimagine how we deliver critical services that will provide treatment to those suffering from substance use disorder, ensure children are receiving high quality services, and expand community-based opportunities for seniors. The creation of a new, unified Department of Health and Human Services will not result in any program cuts for Pennsylvanians, but will dramatically improve our ability to deliver services that will improve lives. “

The Departments of Aging (PDA), Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), Health (DOH), and Human Services (DHS) have the same core mission: to improve public health and quality of life for all residents of the commonwealth. These four separate state agencies currently serve similar, and sometimes overlapping, populations.

Fighting Opioid Epidemic to Remain a Top Priority for New Integrated Agency
Governor Wolf has led the battle against the opioid and heroin epidemic and each of these agencies has been critical to this effort. Among many other initiatives, DOH launched a prescription drug monitoring program and has been raising awareness of the naloxone standing order, DDAP has led the effort to increase the availability of naloxone and drug take back boxes, DHS has created 45 centers of excellence to coordinate treatment for those suffering from substance use disorders, and PDA has led prescription drug take back efforts among the senior population encouraging proper use, storage, and disposal of unused prescription medications.

By creating an organization that is structurally better able to support and coordinate these efforts, individuals in desperate need of substance use disorder treatment will be able to access services through one agency with an integrated data and delivery system. The new HHS will serve as the single state authority for Medicaid, substance use, and mental health purposes enabling the commonwealth to maximize available federal dollars and offset state costs for staff and services. There will continue to be a cabinet-level position in Governor Wolf’s administration that will be dedicated to battling the opioid and heroin epidemic.

Delivering better services to those suffering from substance use disorder is just one example of the benefits realized through the creation of a new, unified department.

Senior Benefits and Programs Will Be Bolstered By Ease, Focus of Single Agency
Seniors will also have a single agency as their point of contact within state government to receive health and human services. Instead of receiving prescription assistance from PACE through PDA, applying for an aging waiver through DHS while seeking home and community-based services from PDA, finding where to dispose of unwanted or expired prescription drugs through DDAP, or searching for information on the quality of nursing homes through DOH, seniors would find the services they need through the Department of Health and Human Services. Furthermore, the creation of this department will have no impact on how lottery fund monies are used to support senior programs.

Reducing Complexity and Confusion for Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities
Currently, at least 21 separate services across the departments provide care for seniors and individuals with physical disabilities. The creation of the Department of Health and Human Services will eliminate the unnecessary duplication of effort and confusion among consumers and their families. The Wolf Administration is dedicated to continuing to provide the same quality services for seniors and individuals with disabilities and will dramatically improve the delivery of services like health screenings, programs to allow individuals to remain in their homes and communities, adult protective services, and home health care and housing supports, though the creation of this new department.

Reducing Red-Tape for Providers and Non-Profits Subject to Regulation
Currently, providers ranging from hospitals and child care centers to substance use treatment facilities and nursing homes are licensed by multiple agencies, many times for the provision of the exact same services. Requiring these businesses to subject themselves to multiple, duplicative inspections and audits costs them money. By centralizing facility licensure in one agency we will improve coordination, increase transparency, and promote uniformity for the health and human services field. The state and providers will be able to better focus our resources on our mission to improve the health and quality of life for citizens rather than back office functions.

In 2015, the administration transferred the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) from the Department of Insurance to DHS. Through this consolidation, the administration has increased the number of kids covered by 10 percent, shortened the average processing time for applications from 40 days to only one day, and saved taxpayers $8 million annually. Additionally, this consolidation resulted in an improved customer experience as many families move between the two programs on a regular basis due to income guidelines. In the same way, combining the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program will result in improved outcomes, shortened application timelines and cost savings to taxpayers.

“Responding to the diverse and sometimes complex needs of older Pennsylvanians often requires interaction with multiple state agencies which can be confusing and incredibly frustrating,” said PDA Secretary Osborne. “The opportunity to create a single, unified, Department of Health and Human Services will reduce fragmentation, eliminate silos, promote accountability, and create a culture of shared responsibility that puts Pennsylvanians first.”

“By working together under Governor Wolf’s leadership, this administration has saved lives by expanding access to naloxone, combatted the stigma of the disease of addiction, and has raised awareness of the severity of this crisis. However, our work is not done,” said Department of Drug and Alcohol Acting Secretary Jennifer Smith. “The creation of the Department of Health and Human Services will help us continue this fight in a collaborative, coordinated manner.”

“The health of all Pennsylvanians is first and foremost to the Wolf Administration,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy. “Consolidating state agencies into one new agency while improving services for Pennsylvanians is not only fiscally responsible, but will ensure that we can continue to meet their needs. The Department of Health team looks forward to working with our sister agencies on the consolidation plan to ensure that Pennsylvanians continue to receive needed services.”

“Consolidation puts the focus where it always should be — on the consumer,” said Secretary of Human Services Ted Dallas. “The Governor’s plan to create HHS will result in a more streamlined and cost-effective agency that delivers better services for Pennsylvania.”

The goal of the Department of Health and Human Services will be to deliver services that will improve the health and quality of life for all Pennsylvanians in an efficient, transparent, and uniform manner.

MEDIA CONTACT:    J.J. Abbott, 717.783.1116

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