On behalf of the RCPA Community Residential Rehabilitation (CRR) service providers and the individuals of Pennsylvania that they serve, RCPA submits our CRR Regulatory Reform Recommendations to the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS). The current lack of access to care is a result of the workforce crisis and operational requirements of implementing the regulations. We feel these access issues and individuals waiting for services are compelling reasons, in the interest of the public, to merit a review of the regulations based on section 8.1 of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P.S. § 745.8a).
The COVID-19 DHS regulatory flexibilities provided relief for providers, and OMHSAS continues to offer waivers to agencies experiencing critical staffing shortages. Providers are grateful for these temporary solutions; however, these waivers do not address the long-term impacts of the current regulatory requirements. Providers continue to struggle to hire qualified staff and contend with burdensome operational requirements, many of which negatively contribute to the efficiency of care delivery. Therefore, many of the guidelines that were allowed under the suspension of regulations and frequent waiver requests are incorporated into recommendations for permanent improvements to the regulations.
Our recommendations place focus on the care of the individuals and address the challenges and barriers CRR service providers have faced in creating the staffing infrastructures and meeting the burdensome operational protocols for regulatory compliance. The overreaching nature of the regulations, coupled with the impact of the pandemic, has caused great strain on an already depleted behavioral health workforce. These system stressors limit the ability to provide vital, quality services to individuals. Under current regulations, programs are forced to focus on administrative details that do not have a meaningful effect on the actual care of the individual.
These CRR Regulatory Recommendations will also be directed to the Governor’s Policy Office, the Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Arkoosh, and members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
RCPA would like to thank the members of the CRR Regulatory Review team for their focused and diligent efforts to make this submission possible. If you have any questions, please contact RCPA Policy Director Jim Sharp.