A Slice of Pie is an ongoing publication keeping our readers informed about important public policy issues. It is the mission of the Policy Information Exchange to educate and inform Pennsylvanians with disabilities, their families and advocates, and the general public, regarding public policy issues and to further the exchange of policy information between the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council and federal, state, and local policy makers. The Policy Information Exchange is funded in part by the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council.
State Budget 2016-17
The Governor’s proposed budget for 2016-17 included funds to expand a number of programs affecting people with disabilities. See Volume 17, Issue 1 of A Slice of PIE for a rundown of the Governor’s proposal. In Volume 17, Issue 2 of the Slice of PIE, we reported on the amount of funding included in the final 2016-17 state budget for some key disability programs. We now know a little bit more about what these final budget numbers mean.
In the past, the final budget was often the same as the Governor’s proposed budget. But in the 2016-17 final budget, many of the amounts actually appropriated for these programs are different than the amounts proposed by the Governor. In most cases, the final budget amounts are less than the Governor proposed. This means that the Departments have to make decisions about how to handle less money than they were counting on.
- The Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) community waiver program received less than the Governor’s request for 2016-17 and they did not receive the supplemental appropriation which they requested for 2015-16. So, while ODP is receiving more funds than they received last year, ODP reports that the increase is barely enough to cover increased costs and annualization of the 1,075 people added for part of the year last year. Therefore, they say that there is not enough money to take people off the waiting list this year. So, there is no waiting list initiative for 2016-2017. They do plan to move 69 people out of State Centers and into the community. They will save $2.8 million in Base funds by reducing contract services.
- The Autism budget is more than the Governor proposed, though additional funds are apparently targeted to a legislative project. They plan to provide home and community based services for 100 additional adults, including 10 from state hospitals. Funds are provided for an increase in the monthly ACAP
- The Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) has said that there is no money to bring people out of state hospitals and into the community under CHIPPS (Community/Hospital Integration Projects Program). OMHSAS is actually receiving less money this year than last year. They hope to be able to make up the cuts in other areas, like personnel, instead of having to cut community services.
- The Office of Long Term Living (OLTL) plans to add 72 people to COMMCare, 1,368 to the Independence Waiver and 600 to the Attendant Care Waiver. No new slots are planned for OBRA or Act 150.
- The Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities (MAWD) budget is less than half of the Governor’s request. That is based on the belief that fewer people will need MAWD because more will come under the Medicaid Expansion.
If you have questions, please contact the PIE office.
Bills of Interest
Below we summarize some bills of interest to the disability community from the 2015-2016 session. For more information about these or any other state bills, go to: www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/session.cfm. At the top of the page is a box labeled, “Legislation Quick Search,” enter the bill number and click on “Search”. The site contains lots of useful information. So, take a few minutes and check it out.
HB 215. Introduced by Representative Mauree Gingrich (R-Lebanon). It would amend the crimes code to provide for the offense of neglect and abuse of care-dependent people. The bill passed the House on February 10, 2015, was amended and voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and has been given first consideration by the full Senate.
HB 585. Introduced by Representative John Sabatina (D-Philadelphia). After Representative Sabatina was elected to fill a Senate vacancy, Representative Joseph Petrarca (D-Armstrong) became the prime sponsor. This bill prevents organ transplant discrimination for non-medical reasons against people with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities. It speeds up organ transplant discrimination complaints. It passed the House on June 20, 2016 and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
HB 568. Introduced by Representative Eli Evankovich (R-Allegheny). This bill would amend the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act (Act 45 of 1999) which addresses accessibility/egress/fire safety requirements, to give local code administrators more flexibility in issuing certificates of occupancy to “uncertified” buildings. It would enable municipalities to use less stringent requirements without passing an ordinance. The bill passed the House and Senate in different forms and was referred to the House Rules Committee on July 11, 2016.
HR 964. Introduced by Representative Thomas P. Murt (R-Montgomery). It recognizes the month of October 2016 as “National Disability Employment Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania. It was introduced and adopted on August 5, 2016.
SR 412. Introduced by Senator Elder A. Vogel Jr. (R-Beaver). “The disability community has a critical interest in policies enacted at local, state and national levels that affect the integration of people with disabilities, young and old, into our communities. Voting is one way for the disability community to exert their influence at local, state and national elections…” The resolution recognizes national Disability Voter Registration Week July 11th – July 15th. It was introduced and adopted, July 11, 2016
Note: Any bill not passed when the session ends on November 30 is dead and must be reintroduced in the new session which begins in January.
On September 15, the Wolf Administration issued a plan and recommendations to implement Executive Order 2016-03, “Establishing ‘Employment First’ Policy and Increasing Competitive-Integrated Employment for Pennsylvanians with a Disability.” The Departments of Labor & Industry, Human Services and Education sought stakeholder and business input to develop a plan that includes twelve priority areas with recommendations to meet the goals of the Executive Order. The 24 page plan is available at www.governor.pa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Employment-First-Exec-Order-Plan.pdf.
Community Health Choices
On August 30, 2016, the Departments of Human Services and Aging announced that the Commonwealth has agreed to negotiate agreements with three managed care plans for the Community HealthChoices (CHC) program. The CHC will coordinate physical health and long-term services and supports (LTSS), if needed, to more than 420,000 individuals who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, older Pennsylvanians, and people with disabilities. The managed care organizations (MCO) selected to proceed with negotiations to provide services beginning in 2017 are AmeriHealth Caritis, Pennsylvania Health and Wellness (Centene), and UPMC for You. A link to each MCO is at www.dhs.pa.gov/citizens/communityhealthchoices/ForProviders/index.htm Fourteen MCOs had applied and several of the unsuccessful applicants have appealed the decision.
The Office of Long Term Living has issued three new Bulletins:
- Employment and Employment Related Services, 59-16-07, was issued on July 26, 2016, effective on that date. The Bulletin communicates the Commonwealth’s recently established “Employment First” policy to Service Coordination Entities (SCEs) and identifies both the obligations of and the resources available to the SCEs under that policy.
- Participant Reviews, 59-16-08, was issued on August 15, 2016 and was effective on October 1, 2016. The Bulletin implements a standardized participant review tool for Service Coordinators (SCEs), and provides guidance to SCEs on when increased face-to-face visits to participants should be scheduled in order to protect the health and welfare of program participants.
- Organized Health Care Delivery System, 59-16-11, was issued on August 29, 2016 and was effective on that date. The Bulletin provides clarification to OLTL Service Coordination Entities (SCEs) related to subcontracting Durable Medical Equipment/Specialized Medical Equipment and Supplies as an Organized Health Care Delivery System (OHCDS).
The Office of Developmental Programs has issued one new Bulletin:
Individual Support Plans for Individuals Receiving Targeted Services Management, Base Funded Services, Consolidated or PF/DS Waiver Services, or Who Reside in an ICF/ID, 00-16-06, was issued on September 16, 2016, effective on that date. The Bulletin provides requirements and standardized processes for preparing, completing, documenting, implementing, and monitoring Individual Support Plans (ISPs) for individuals with an intellectual disability.
The Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services has issued one new Bulletin: Admissions, Transfers, Level of care and Service Area Designation for the Regional Forensic Psychiatric Centers, OMHSAS-16-10, was issued on July 14, 2016, effective immediately. The Bulletin implements the protocol and operational changes approved by the Secretary of the Department of Human Services (DHS) for the operation of Regional Forensic Psychiatric Centers (RFPCs). The changes addressed by this policy include the establishment of a centralized referral process to the RFPCs.
Federal Budget 2017
Congress has not passed any of the twelve appropriations bills for the Federal fiscal year that starts October 1, 2016. A Continuing Resolution will be needed to fund the government after September 30, 2016. There is disagreement on the length of the extension and whether the budget negotiations should be taken up by the 115th Congress after it is sworn in in January 2017. The majority of disability programs and services funding is in the Labor/Health and Human Services/Education Committee. For information on the status of the appropriations bills go to www.congress.gov/resources/display/content/Appropriations+for+Fiscal+Year+2017 .
On September 12, 2016, the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) issued the “Everyday Lives: Values in Action” booklet. Its purpose is to guide ODP as it develops policy and designs programs. Providers of services will use the recommendations to support individuals and their families to achieve everyday lives. The new booklet updates the previous “Everyday Lives” publication. It is available at www.dhs.pa.gov/publications/EverydayLives/index.htm.
A September article in The Nation describes the economic and social costs of sub-minimum wage, like that paid in sheltered workshops, for people with disabilities. It can be read at www.thenation.com/article/people-with-disabilities-minimum-wage/. In December 2015, Disability Rights Pennsylvania published a white paper on concerns about the subminimum wage and recommendations on how to move to Employment First. It’s available at
http://disabilityrightspa.org/File/community_jobs_and_living_wage.pdf. See also the Employment article, above in State News, which includes a citation to the plan and recommendations to implement the Governor’s Employment First Executive Order.
Finding Health Insurance
The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service awarded a consortium of Pennsylvania mental health organizations a grant to continue the Health Insurance Marketplace Navigator Program which helps Pennsylvanians figure out their health insurance options. The consortium, which includes the Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers’ Association, Mental Health Association in PA, Mental Health America of Westmoreland County and the Advocacy Alliance, helped more than 3,000 people enroll in the marketplace, Medicaid and CHIP in their first three years. The Navigator program is part of the Affordable Care Act, which also requires all Qualified Health Plans to provide behavioral health services. Navigators can be reached at 1-855-274-5626 (toll free). Contact information for Navigators serving regions of the state is at www.pmhca.org. Language interpreter services are available. The TTY number is 1-877-962-5593.
The Governor’s Office of Administration, in September, officially launched the William Penn Fellowship program. The fellowship is designed to attract graduate-level candidates into state government to work on projects relating to the Governor’s priorities of Schools that Teach, Jobs that Pay, and Government that Works. Fellowships are two-year positions open to individuals with master’s-level degrees and above. Candidates will start in summer 2017 and, following a 3 month orientation, be assigned to agencies for their fellowships. The application period for candidates is August 1 to October 28, 2016. For more information, contact Shelly Forte, Special Assistant for Enterprise Recruitment, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As part of the Person-Driven Services and Supports Project funded by the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council, the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University and Values into Action-PA have published a Supports Broker Policy Manual to help develop Supports Broker services in Pennsylvania. The manual is designed for providers who want to offer Supports Broker services so they can partner with people with disabilities and their families who want to direct their own services. Among the topics covered are the roles and responsibilities for supports brokers as well as qualification and evaluation standards. The manual is available at http://disabilities.temple.edu/programs/pds/ . For more information, contact Marian Frattarola-Saulino at email@example.com, 610-565-5177 or Denise Beckett at firstname.lastname@example.org, 215-204-4979.
The Pennsylvania Statewide Independent Living Council has a new website. Check it out at www.pasilc.org.
In August, the Group Nonprofit Vote released Nonprofits, Voting and Elections, an updated online guide to nonpartisan voter engagement for 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. It includes guidance on how to promote voting and engage candidates on a nonpartisan basis, do’s and don’t’s, voter registration, voter education, candidate engagement and more. Each topic offers general guidelines, followed by a Q&A section, and additional resources on that topic.
To read the guide, go to www.nonprofitvote.org/nonprofits-voting-elections-online/.
On November 8, Pennsylvanians will vote for a new president, one US Senator, all of Pennsylvania’s Representatives in the US House, all of the Pennsylvania State House and half of the Pennsylvania State Senate. You can register to vote online at www.register.votespa.com. The voter registration deadline for the November 8, 2016 election is October 11, 2016. If you are already registered, you can check your voter registration status or update your address online at www.register.votespa.com. If you would like to vote absentee you can apply for an absentee ballot here. You can also check your polling place here.