PCPA Alert: Children’s Behavioral Health Services

PCPA Alert
June 25, 2012
MHA Issues Family Alert for Children’s Behavioral Health Services
 
 
The Mental Health Association (MHA) in Pennsylvania has issued the following alert to families.
 

FAMILY ALERT: CHILDREN’S BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SERVICES

The Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania (DRN) has been made aware of recent policy and practice changes by the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) and Behavioral Health Managed Care Organizations (BH-MCOs) that have limited and may continue to negatively impact children’s access to behavioral health services, for example, Summer Therapeutic Activities Programs, Behavioral Specialist Services, and Therapeutic Staff Support.  If you are having difficulty accessing a home-, community-, or school-based behavioral health service your child needs or has had in the past, or that has been prescribed for your child, please contact DRN’s Intake by calling 1-800-692-7443 or by sending an email to intake@drnpa.org.
 
Members are encouraged to be aware of the practice and policy changed referenced in the communication from the Disability Rights Network and to share, as appropriate, DRN contact information. Members are also encouraged to inform PCPA of local managed care and Medical Assistance Transportation Program policy and practice changes that impact access to or continuity of care. 

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Copyright 2012 – Pennsylvania Community Providers Association
2101 N Front St, Bldg 3, Ste 200, Harrisburg, PA 17110
Phone: 717-364-3280 – Fax: 717-364-3287

www.paproviders.org

PCPA Legislative Alert: DiGirolamo Budget Amendments

Contact Legislators Monday to Vote “Yes” on DiGirolamo Budget Amendments!
Representative Gene DiGirolamo is introducing two amendments to Governor Corbett’s proposed budget, one which stops the block grant and a second which restores the human services funding cut still remaining after the Senate budget proposal, Senate Bill 1477, restored half. It is likely the amendments will be voted on June 5 (during PCPA Capitol Day)! It is crucial that every legislator in Pennsylvania be called or emailed on Monday to ask them to vote “YES” on the DiGirolamo amendments. More information will be shared when available. Further questions may be addressed to Anne Leisure (anne@paproviders.org).
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Copyright 2012 – Pennsylvania Community Providers Association
2101 N Front St, Bldg 3, Ste 200, Harrisburg, PA 17110
Phone: 717-364-3280 – Fax: 717-364-3287
www.paproviders.org

PCPA Legislative Alert: Prime Time for Visits to County Commissioners!

Prime Time for Visits to County Commissioners!
The Department of Public Welfare (DPW) and the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) have issued an update on negotiationsconcerning the proposed Human Services Development Block Grant. Key points in the document follow.
 

  • The block grant will combine appropriations and allocate them to counties proportionately, based on the current aggregate distributions. A phase-in period will be implemented. In the first year (2012/13) counties will be required to spend 50 percent of funding within the current categorical allocations. In the second year (2013/14) counties will be required to spend 25 percent of funding within the current categorical allocations. By 2014/15, counties will be granted full flexibility. Counties may continue funding in the current categorical line items if preferred. Counties interested in moving to full flexibility immediately may apply for a waiver to do so.
  • Counties will be able to continue to operate existing joinder arrangements and can create new joinders if desired.
  • Counties will pay the amount of match paid by the county in fiscal year 2009/10 until final fiscal year 2010/11 match information is available. DPW will make adjustments at the close of fiscal year 2012/13.
  • Counties will be allowed to retain up to three percent of fiscal year 2011/12 carryover funds for reinvestment in human services and will be able to request a waiver to retain additional funds. Counties will need to submit a reinvestment plan.
  • A new streamlined reporting document will be used that replaces current fiscal reporting associated with the categorical programs.
  • DPW will require annual plans of how counties propose to use block grant dollars.
  • Outcomes measures will be built into the block grant proposal to ensure needs are being met.  

A number of county commissioners have reviewed provisions of the block grant and expressed strong concerns related to the impact on the safety net infrastructure. PCPA appreciates the thoughtful input of these commissioners and urges members to communicate with county commissioners as soon as possibleto convey the crucial importance of maintaining an intact safety net. A Talking Points document for visits to county commissioners is available. Contact information for commissioners can be found through the CCAP web site, which contains links to each county.
 
If services to Pennsylvanians in need of mental health, intellectual disability, autism, or addiction care are to remain accessible and effective, funding must be preserved and Pennsylvania’s safety net must be protected. To fight the devastation of Pennsylvania’s community services, members are urged to take action to visit county commissioners NOW. Further questions may be addressed to Anne Leisure (anne@paproviders.org). 
  

_____________________________________________________________________

Copyright 2012 – Pennsylvania Community Providers Association
2101 N Front St, Bldg 3, Ste 200, Harrisburg, PA 17110
Phone: 717-364-3280 – Fax: 717-364-3287

www.paproviders.org

PCPA Hill Day

Join PCPA at Hill Day!
Make Your Voice Heard on Capitol Hill
 
Join PCPA for the National Council’s 8th Annual Public Policy Institute and Hill Day June 25 – 26 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Washington, DC. Each year at Hill Day hundreds of behavioral health providers, administrators, board members, consumers, and community stakeholders come for a full day of sessions and workshops on federal behavioral health policy, followed by visits with their elected officials on Capitol Hill to advocate for the field’s priorities.

At the Public Policy Institute on June 25, members will have the opportunity to hear from key congressional and administration staff and policy experts who will provide an update on important federal policy initiatives. There will also be breakout sessions on advocacy techniques, federal grant funding, and social media marketing. On June 26, members meet with elected officials on Capitol Hill. The National Council will hold a reception each night: one on Capitol Hill to honor Legislators of the Year and the other at the Hyatt Regency to recognize member achievements and advocacy efforts. More details and registration information is available on the 
Hill Day web site.
 
PCPA experiences better reception from congressional offices when there is only one visit on specific issues from Hill Day participants. PCPA has requested appointments with both Pennsylvania Senators, to which all PCPA members in attendance are invited, and will also make appointments with members of Congress when requested. If PCPA is asked to make a Congressional appointment, every effort will be made to schedule the appointment at a time that does not conflict with Senatorial appointments, but requests for specific times cannot be taken. Those members requesting that PCPA schedule an appointment must be responsible for ensuring the appointment time is covered. Any member who has already scheduled an appointment with a congressman is invited to share that appointment time with other members by informing PCPA when the visit is to take place. PCPA will distribute a list of appointments to all association registrants.
 
More information will be shared as it becomes available, including scheduled appointment times and National Council talking points. Hill Day is a wonderful opportunity to ensure that federal lawmakers understand the importance of high quality and accessible behavioral health services to their communities. The Pennsylvania presence at Hill Day continues to grow and PCPA hopes that this year is no exception!
 
Questions and comments may be shared with George Kimes (george@paproviders.org) or Anne Leisure (anne@paproviders.org). 
_____________________________________________________________________

Copyright 2012 – Pennsylvania Community Providers Association
2101 N Front St, Bldg 3, Ste 200, Harrisburg, PA 17110
Phone: 717-364-3280 – Fax: 717-364-3287

www.paproviders.org

PCPA: Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

Governor Proclaims Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

Governor Tom Corbett has issued a proclamation making May 9 Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day in Pennsylvania. In his proclamation the governor notes that “addressing the complex mental health needs of children, youth and families today is fundamental to the future of Pennsylvania.” Governor Corbett goes on to “urge our commonwealth’s citizens to become aware of the importance of effective and coordinated services for children and youth, to learn about the impact of trauma on child health and well-being, and to unite in an effort to increase awareness about the importance of comprehensive programs for children and youth with mental health needs and their families.”

PCPA joins the governor and neighbors across Pennsylvania in celebrating Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day and commends mental health professionals and workers who strive daily to meet the complex needs of children, youth, and families.

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Copyright 2012 – Pennsylvania Community Providers Association
2101 N Front St, Bldg 3, Ste 200, Harrisburg, PA 17110
Phone: 717-364-3280 – Fax: 717-364-3287

www.paproviders.org

PCPA Info: Voter ID Required

In the recent primary election, voters were asked for identification (ID), but not required to produce it. Voter ID will be required in the November election. In an effort to mitigate onerous requirements for those who do not currently have suitable ID, the Secretary of the Commonwealth announced a process intended to make it easier for those who have had an expired driver’s license or non-driver license photo ID to obtain a valid ID that will authorize them to vote. Information from the PENNDOT database will be used to verify identification and the card will be issued. Individuals may contact PENNDOT at 800-932-4600 to verify that information for licenses that expired before 1990 is still in the database. An application form is required for the non-driver license photo ID. Individuals are required to sign an affirmation that they have no other acceptable form of photo ID for voting purposes to receive the non-driver license photo ID at no charge.

Photo IDs from Pennsylvania care facilities including long-term care facilities, assisted living residences, or personal care homes are valid, as long as they include the name of the facility, the name and photo of the voter, and an expiration date. Accredited Pennsylvania public or private college and university photo IDs with expiration dates can also be used. If the card does not have an expiration date, a date sticker can be used.

Starting with the November election, all photo IDs must be current and contain an expiration date, unless otherwise noted. Acceptable IDs include:

  • Photo IDs issued by the US government or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania;
  • Pennsylvania driver’s license or non-driver’s license photo ID (IDs are valid for voting purposes 12 months past expiration date);
  • Valid US passport;
  • US military ID – active duty and retired military (dependents’ ID must contain an expiration date);
  • Employee photo ID issued by federal, Pennsylvania state, or a Pennsylvania county or municipal government;
  • Photo ID cards from an accredited public or private Pennsylvania college or university; or
  • Photo ID cards issued by a Pennsylvania care facility, including long-term care facilities, assisted living residences, or personal care homes.

If a voter does not have a photo ID at the polls in November, he or she may use a provisional ballot and will have six days to provide a photo ID to the county election office in person, by mail, e-mail, or fax. More information is available at www.VotesPA.com, or 877-VOTESPA (877-868-3772). Voter ID acts in Pennsylvania and other states are being contested. Despite efforts to make it easier to obtain IDs, voter ID requirements will disenfranchise many.

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Copyright 2012 – Pennsylvania Community Providers Association
2101 N Front St, Bldg 3, Ste 200, Harrisburg, PA 17110
Phone: 717-364-3280 – Fax: 717-364-3287
www.paproviders.org

 

PCPA Spring Rally Schedule

There are a wide range of opportunities in May and June to come to Harrisburg and make it clear to the administration and General Assembly that large numbers of Pennsylvanians care deeply about maintaining access to community services. Stakeholders are keenly aware that in order to avoid the devastation of Pennsylvania’s community services, it is crucially important that members take action! In addition to PCPA Capitol Day on June 5, members are encouraged to consider attending other rallies.
PCPA Capitol Day – June 5
PCPA has partnered with the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania and other concerned associations and advocacy groups in a joint effort to come together on June 5 and fight for a budget that is realistic and offers the support required by Pennsylvanians receiving behavioral health, intellectual disability, and autism services. Please watch for an announcement that PCPA’s online Capitol Day web site is open! The online Capitol Day web site will feature everything needed to register, order Capitol Day t-shirts, make appointments with legislators, and get information and talking points. The legislative press conference/rally will begin promptly at 12:00 p.m. This event features legislators and other speakers to rally the crowd and share support for community services.
PARF Legislative Rally – May 8
The Pennsylvania Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (PARF) is holding a legislative rally May 8 at 10:00 a.m. in the Main Capitol Rotunda in partnership with PCPA, The ARC of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Waiting List Campaign, and Vision for Equality to call for adequate funding for community programs for people with intellectual disabilities. The rally will call on legislators to stop proposed funding reductions for individuals with intellectual disabilities and provide crucial support for the emergency waiting list. PCPA will participate in the PARF event and urges those members unable to attend Capitol Day on June 5 to participate on May 8.

In addition to the PCPA and PARF rallies, the following rallies have been scheduled and provide an opportunity to further support the advocacy community.

  • PA Brain Injury Coalition 2012 Legislative Day on May 2. The rally will take place at 10:00 a.m. in the Main Capitol Rotunda.
  • “Keep Your Promise” Rally on May 2. The rally will take place at 12:00 p.m. in the Main Capitol Rotunda and is sponsored by Visions for Equality. It is focused on the ID Waiting List.
  • Save PA’s Bridge to Stability & Self-Sufficiency Rally and Lobby Day on May 7.
  • The rally begins at 11:00 a.m. in the Main Capitol Rotunda and is sponsored by PA Cares for All. It is focused on General Assistance budget cuts.

More information is available on the respective web sites of sponsoring organizations. Further questions may be addressed to Anne Leisure at anne@paproviders.org.

_____________________________________________________________________
Copyright 2012 – Pennsylvania Community Providers Association
2101 N Front St, Bldg 3, Ste 200, Harrisburg, PA 17110
Phone: 717-364-3280 – Fax: 717-364-3287
www.paproviders.org

 

Take A Stand Against Budget Cuts!

Write, Email, Phone – Time to Get in Touch with Legislators!
It is crucial that the work being done in Harrisburg be accompanied by grass roots legislative work in the districts! Legislators are very interested in hearing from constituents, including providers, consumers, and families. It is important that they continue to be reminded by every means possible of the importance of maintaining access to behavioral health, intellectual disability, and autism services. While the most effective means of outreach continues to be inviting legislators to tour agencies or visiting them accompanied by families or consumers, in the all out budget assault that providers are currently experiencing, other methods of outreach need to be employed as well. 
 
Legislators’ email addresses, mail addresses, and phone numbers can be found on www.legis.state.pa.us. PCPA has developed sample language that can be used in letters or emails and budget talking points to assist in delivering the message. However, this suggested language is only part of what should be included – most important is information about how your agency serves those in the community, especially success stories if possible. The following materials may help agencies reach out to legislators through letters, phone calls, and emails. 
 

These cuts target the truly needy and will hurt individuals who should not be sacrificed during this time of limited resources, but should be among the first protected. If services to Pennsylvanians in need of mental health, intellectual disability, autism, or addiction care are to remain accessible and effective, funding must be preserved and Pennsylvania’s safety net must be protected. To avoid the devastation of Pennsylvania’s community services, it is crucially important that members take action NOW! 
 

_____________________________________________________________________

Copyright 2012 – Pennsylvania Community Providers Association
2101 N Front St, Bldg 3, Ste 200, Harrisburg, PA 17110
Phone: 717-364-3280 – Fax: 717-364-3287

www.paproviders.org

PCPA Behavioral Health Budget Position: Behavioral Health Budget Cuts

PCPA Decries Dismantling of Behavioral Health System and Devastating Budget Cuts

For over 40 years, Pennsylvania state government has built one of the best, if not the best, systems of public behavioral health care in the country, effectively serving Pennsylvanians of all ages. State institutions have been closed or downsized, community providers have built local services, peer services have been incorporated into the available array of services, and movement to a model focused on recovery and resiliency has progressed. The proposed state budget – with massive cuts and a major public policy shift to a block grant funding model – promises to devastate the current system and poses significant risks to those most in need of commonwealth support. The Corbett administration has abdicated its long-term responsibility for and commitment to care for people with mental illness and substance use disorders. Promises made to vulnerable citizens and to communities will be broken.

The Block Grant
The Corbett budget creates significant problems for the behavioral health system. The administration is proposing a massive redistribution of funds from several budget lines into a new human services block grant, along with major reductions to these funds. The proposed block grant displays a lack of awareness of legal, historical, and operational processes and precedents. Behavioral health funds are used as the primary underpinning to support the human services block grant. Approximately 73 percent of the block grant is comprised of funds that were previously dedicated to behavioral health services.

Furthermore, the proposed block grant marks a major shift in public policy that was developed with little or no outside or stakeholder input. There appears to have been little, if any, utilization of industry experts. The process lacks the typical approaches used to develop sound public policy and the result is, therefore, flawed public policy. Funding streams for these services have been carefully thought out over the years, informed by a wide range of stakeholders, experts, and past administrations. Systemic changes have taken place through transparent public processes of deliberations, educated by the realities of consumers, families, and communities. The promise of flexibility and opportunities for better integration of programs and services has some merit, but this model is untested. Looting the commonwealth’s behavioral health system that has a proven track record of success to sustain other categorical programs is wrong and laden with great risk. The massive transfer of behavioral health funds to the Human Services Development Fund, with promise of flexible spending, will decimate the infrastructure that has developed over multiple administrations. The proposed block grant is wrong and must be opposed.


Promises Not Kept
Over a 25 year period, the commonwealth has repeatedly moved to improve the lives of individuals facing the challenges of mental illness. Promises were made that individuals could live meaningful lives in the community, rather than in isolation in an institution. With the closure of each state institution or downsizing though the Community/Hospital Integration Projects Program (CHIPP) promises were made to individuals and communities that the commonwealth would maintain these services and supports. Communities across Pennsylvania were repeatedly promised that care would be provided and individuals would not be “dumped” into the streets, the jails, or emergency rooms in community hospitals. The Olmstead Plan for Pennsylvania’s State Mental Health System details how the “Department of Public Welfare will work with counties to plan for the development of a broad array of integrated options to meet the needs of consumers.” It also acknowledges the fiscal and social costs of failing to provide the necessary supports and services that far outweigh the costs of paying for these supports and services. In spite of the well acknowledged fact that persons with mental illnesses can live successfully in their communities at a cost significantly less than services provided in institutions, the Corbett administration has reneged on these promises and shifted the burden back to local communities for care that is a state responsibility. The Corbett administration must keep the promises of prior administrations, both Republican and Democratic, to adequately serve people outside of institutions and to assure local communities they will be safe and free from the significant cost burdens of good local care.

The Funding Cuts
The Corbett budget proposes massive cuts to the behavioral health service system and the General Assistance program which provides support and services to individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders. These cuts were made without regard to severe consequences such as increased incarceration and homelessness and the elimination of life-sustaining services. These cuts were made ignoring the devastation it will bring to the critical services provided to Pennsylvania’s most needy.

The budget proposes a cut of $123.08 million for behavioral health services. That includes Community Mental Health appropriation – $110.02 million; Behavioral Health Services Initiative -$9.58 million; Act 152 Drug and Alcohol appropriation – $2.99 million; and Special Pharmaceuticals appropriation – $.49 million. The proposed block grant lacks sufficient detail for other analysis, although there have been consistent reports that counties will be freed of matching fund requirements, which would mean another potential loss of $14.1 million in county matching funds. Since counties will be free to transfer funds to needed areas, even a transfer of 5 percent of the behavioral health funds is another potential loss of $27.5 million.
PCPA is working to determine the impact of the $170.3 million cut to General Assistance-related Medical Assistance coverage. It has been estimated that as much of one third of the General Assistance program funding made treatment possible for those with mental illness and substance use disorders, a possible impact of as much as $51.09 million. The reduction of the cash component of the General Assistance program will also impact behavioral health consumers. The total potential cuts to behavioral health may approach $200 million.
It is recognized that these are difficult times for the state’s budget. However, the proposed cuts are excessive and devastating to the system. These cuts target the truly needy. They will hurt individuals who have long been the responsibility of the state, dating back to its founding. These vulnerable individuals should not be sacrificed during this time of more limited resources, but should be among the first that are protected. These cuts must be restored!

Action Steps:
1.        Contact Mental Health/Intellectual Disability county administrators, Single County Authorities, and county commissioners to explore possible avenues of joint  action. Discuss and demonstrate the devastating effects on services.

2.        Contact legislators in the district to communicate the impact of these devastating cuts and policy shifts.

3.        Contact local media – write an op-ed or a letter to the editor. Tell your story!

4.        Come to Harrisburg for PCPA’s Capitol Day on June 5.

5.        Watch for additional announcements and alerts from PCPA about further actions needed.

In summary, the block grant is wrong and must be stopped; promises made to consumers and to communities must be kept; and the massive cuts must be restored.

PCPA and Behavioral HealthChoices

PCPA Paper Highlights Success of Behavioral Health Managed Care

PCPA has published Continuing the Success of Pennsylvania’s Behavioral Health Managed Care Program. The primary purpose of the paper is to keep legislators, state and county officials, and other stakeholders apprised of the important and successful commonwealth program, Behavioral HealthChoices. The paper was written on behalf of members to highlight the success of the behavioral health managed care program and support continuation of this model. It has been the overwhelming experience of community providers, consumers, and many others in the field that the Behavioral HealthChoices model of specialty managed care offers a structure of accountability that assures access to quality care, implementation of evidence-based treatment, and sound fiscal control. PCPA believes strongly that the model should continue. All members are encouraged to forward the paper to local officials and other stakeholders whenever possible.