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“Pennsylvania Mental Health Laws and Regulations: relevant excerpts for emergency physicians”

http://www.pitt.edu/~kconover/ftp/302-text.pdf

The above link is to a PDF file I found linked in my google alerts, I’m not sure about who posted it or if it is something that is legitimately posted online, but I thought it was interesting to say the least and something that might be of interest to some of my readers.   The file includes a date of January 4, 2004, which I’m assuming that it means the information was current at that time.  So, I’m not claiming it is completely current, but within the realm of my limited knowledge about the 302 process, it seems like it would be something that could be a starting point for someone who has an interest in learning more about the PA 302 laws.

Based on the web address, I suspect it is hosted on a University of Pittsburgh server, so if someone spots this post and knows anything about whether or not it’s ok for me to post this, could you please let me know.  In the event that I accessed a link I shouldn’t have, I will gladly remove the post.   This link seemed to be hitting in a grey area in terms of my accessing it, so I want to be sure I’m not stepping on any toes by sharing it.  I simply felt the file would be of interest here and as I said if there is a problem with me accessing it, I will be more then happy to remove the post if there is a problem.

I know Google sometimes picks up on links that may not have been intended for the public which is part of my caution with this particular link.

If you don’t have the software to view PDF files, you can get free software from either of these two links ….

Adobe Acrobat reader – http://get.adobe.com/reader/?promoid=BUIGO

Nitro Reader – http://www.nitroreader.com/    (Nitro Reader also allows you to create PDF files from other documents and has some nice features like the ability to highlight text and add your own notes to a file, which is something I find helpful sometimes)

Both programs are available for free.

Update on SB 699 (revised)

I received word yesterday, that SB 699 has passed the state senate and is now on its way to Governor Randell to hopefully be signed by him. 

For more information about SB 699, please visit the PMHCA website where they offer a brief description of it on their site at … http://pmhca.org/?page=news_detail&id=720

MHA email newsletter about Rep. Dan Frankel’s proposed legislation

The following information is from an email newsletter I received today, Tuesday, March 31, 2009, from Mental Health Association of Pennsylvania (MHAPA) it indicates that State Representative Dan Frankel is introducing legislation involving funds received from the sale or lease from state mental health facilities.  I included the link from the email that takes you to a form you can fill out to send to your state representative asking them to co-sponsor the bill.

Representative Dan Frankel is introducing legislation that would ensure the proceeds of the sale or lease of a mental health facility would be used to establish a mental health community services account.  The community mental health system would directly benefit from this legislation.  The legislation requires the reinvestment of the proceeds into one-time costs related to housing options and services that support independent living. 

Please contact your PA House representative and urge him/her to co-sponsor Representative Frankel’s legislation.

Personal Needs Allowance Raise Celebrations!

There are two celbrations planed to celebrate the successfull increase in the Personal Needs Allowance for folks on SSI in Personal Care Homes.

Pittsburgh …

The Pittsburgh event is to be held … Thursday, February 26, 2009; 10 AM – 12 noon …a PDF file with details is available at …  https://share.acrobat.com/adc/document.do?docid=3e378dfa-a23f-4043-87df-3731b2291d33

 

Harrisburg …

The Harrisburg event to be held … Tuesday, March 10, 2009; 10 AM – 11 AM a PDF file with details is available at … https://share.acrobat.com/adc/document.do?docid=89091900-3788-497d-9282-b633e23cff83

“Change in federal law could mean small companies will take a big hit on insurance rates”

This is an article discussing potential obstacles for businesses in regards to the recently passed Mental Health Parity Act.  It is written objectively, but shows what small businesses may have to hurdle in order to comply.  I found it at the following address …. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08337/932022-28.stm  I’m posting the article here as an FYI item or something the we may want to keep an eye on.  I feel the Mental Health Parity Act is long overdue, but I do agree that implimenting it may be difficult for smaller businesses, though not impossible.

Change in federal law could mean small companies will take a big hit on insurance rates
Tuesday, December 02, 2008

With the national spotlight on Congress’ bailout of financial institutions, little notice has been paid to another part of the law passed last month that could affect smaller businesses — the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.

For more than a decade, mental health and addiction treatment advocates have lobbied to bring employers’ mental health insurance benefits on par with other medical benefits. In the interim, many large employers took that step on their own.

That’s not necessarily the case with smaller employers.

When it goes into effect January 2010, the Mental Health Parity Act will exempt businesses with fewer than 50 employees, but those just above that level may be facing a Hobson’s Choice — either significantly upgrade their mental health and substance abuse coverage, or drop it altogether.

“For people who need mental health treatment, it [the new law] is definitely a win because it will be easier to get appropriate care,” said Steven Wojcik, vice president for public policy for the National Business Group on Health in Washington, D.C. “But for those smaller employers, it’s definitely going to make health-care costs more expensive, so those employers operating at the margins may have a hard time continuing to offer those benefits.”

Here’s why: While it’s not unusual for a small- to medium-size employer to offer unlimited outpatient visits for a physical ailment, doing the same for mental health and addiction treatment can add significantly to a company’s health premium. The same may hold true for inpatient hospitalizations.

For a large employer, many of whom self-insure, the risks and costs are spread out enough to be manageable. For a small-to-medium size business, both risk and cost can look daunting.

“Probably what’s going to happen is that the substance abuse treatment benefit will become more generous,” said Mr. Wojcik. “I can’t imagine you would have limits on outpatient services for conditions like stroke, diabetes or asthma.”

Under the new law, he said, if you don’t limit rehabilitation services for a stroke, you can’t limit them for mental health or substance abuse either.

“The timing is certainly not good, and it’s ironic that this was attached to the bailout bill. The last thing you want to do is to raise labor costs at a time of rising unemployment.”

Covering treatment for mental health and addiction problems is a good investment for employers if it means they retain a good employee.

As addiction treatment expert Michael T. Flaherty noted, “The positive implications of this law will by far exceed any good achieved by the economic ‘bailout’ over the years. Medicine can now work on finding the true origins of mental illness and empower the patient in each cure.”

He added that insurance companies should welcome the change because millions more people would be added to the rolls of the insured, and conditions will be treated before they become catastrophes.

But the impact can differ depending on the size of a company, both in cost to the employee and the company.

A new Kaiser Family Foundation found that the smallest firms “are about half as likely to offer coverage to their employees” — about 62 percent of businesses with less than 200 employees — compared with 99 percent of firms with 200 or more employees. The study also found that employees at smaller firms generally pay higher deductibles.

But smaller businesses already have been facing up to 20 percent annual increases in their health-care costs the past three years, so any further add-on becomes a worry.

How much might premiums go up? Highmark spokesman Michael Weinstein says that “there are so many variables unknown yet on this mental health parity law that, at this point, for any insurance company not just Highmark, it’s very difficult to calculate the exact impact on health benefit premiums.”

Scott Lammie, chief financial officer for UPMC Health Plan, said it already offers mental health coverage as a standard benefit so the new law “is expected to have only a modest impact on premium levels, which we believe over time could also have a favorable premium impact by helping to reduce overall physical health costs.”

So far, the issue apparently has not generated much discussion among small to midsize businesses.

“My suspicion is that they’re not as aware [of the new law] as they should be,” said Lee Taddonio of SMC Business Councils, whose 2,500 members typically have up to 150 employees. Mr. Taddonio said Pennsylvania has had mental health parity laws since 2006, and also noted that the new federal law offers an out if health-care costs increase more than 2 percent the first year, and 1 percent after that.

“My gut feeling is that I don’t think it will be an issue,” he said. “But we’ll find out when they make the rates. If it gets too expensive, then it would cause people to opt out and that would change the ballgame all together.”

Steve Twedt can be reached at stwedt@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1963.
First published on December 2, 2008 at 12:00 am

The death of HB2253 … or is it? Part 2

  This is a second email I received from the same source at PMHCA regarding the death and hopefully resurrection of HB2253 offing another way you can help.

Click here to download the booklet mentioned in the following message

 

 

Dear friends – Here’s another way to get our message out about the personal needs allowance.

 

I’m attaching a booklet that tells the real stories of several personal care home residents and their struggles to survive on $60 per month. You can print a copy of this booklet (color is fantastic if you have a color printer!), personalize it with your own message and send it on to the Governor and your legislators.

 

You could even have everyone in your drop-in center, support group, clubhouse, personal care home or other group to write their personal messages. Some people may want to tell what they spend their monthly allowance on. Feel free to add more blank pages that you fill in.

 

You will want to include a cover letter that tells who is sending the booklet to them so they can contact you. Here is what we want the governor and our legislators to know:  

It’s time to give a holiday gift to Pennsylvania’s low income personal care home residents: SPLIT THE SSI RAISE!

Nearly 10,000 seniors and people with disabilities in PA’s personal care homes are struggling to live on a $60 monthly allowance that must pay for medication co-pays, transportation, clothing, phone calls and all personal items. They have not received a raise in their monthly needs allowance since 1993!

 

In January 2009, all citizens on SSI will receive a generous 5.8% cost of living raise, $37 per month – the largest raise in 25 years. PA’s PCH residents will not receive ONE CENT of the raise unless DPW decides lets some of it go to them. We advocate that the raise be split evenly between the residents and the owners, as it was for Dom Care.

Please ask DPW to “Split the SSI raise” so that some of our most vulnerable residents can better meet their own needs!

 

Send to:

1. Governor Edward Rendell

225 Capital Building

Harrisburg, PA 17120

Or governor@state.pa.us

 

2. Your PA state legislators – You can find your legislator at www.congress.org. Type your zip code into the box beside “find your officials”. Send your message to your State Legislators.

The Death of HB2253 …. Or is it?

I received the following info in an email from a friend of mine at PMHCA.  The links at the end of this post will take you to a place you can download the files Rachel mentions in her update.

Dear friends – I’m writing to update you on our fight to Raise the $60 Personal Needs Allowance (PNA) for residents of personal needs allowance and to thank you for all your help over the past year on this struggle. Here’s what we know:

Ø  House Bill 2253- The bill to raise the PNA will quietly die at the end of the 2008. We will work to get it reintroduced in the new session and will need your help in 2009 for that!

Ø  SSI Cost of Living Adjustment (raise) – We were excited to learn that people on SSI will be receiving a $37/month raise from Social Security starting January 2009. This is the largest raise in SSI since 1982!! However: Unless the Department of Public Welfare changes the amount of the personal needs allowance to reflect this raise, the personal care home residents will not receive ONE CENT of their raise.

It will all go to the owners of the personal care homes. We understand that the owners’ costs are also rising; they have received many raises over the past 15 years to address this. Residents have not received a raise for 15 years!

We are asking for DPW to support a split in the $37/month raise: $18.50 to the residents, $18.50 to the owners – this just seems fair and in fact, it’s what the Department of Aging does in their Dom Care Homes.

 

Here’s what we need YOU to do:

       Contact the governor’s office and your legislator to ask that DPW “Split the SSI Raise” between personal care home residents

       Here’s a message you can use:

It’s time to give a holiday gift to Pennsylvania’s low income personal care home residents: SPLIT THE SSI RAISE!

Nearly 10,000 seniors and people with disabilities in PA’s personal care homes are struggling to live on a $60 monthly allowance that must pay for medication co-pays, transportation, clothing, phone calls and all personal items. They have not received a raise in their monthly needs allowance since 1993!

 

In January 2009, all citizens on SSI will receive a generous 5.8% cost of living raise, $37 per month – the largest raise in 25 years. PA’s PCH residents will not receive ONE CENT of the raise unless DPW decides lets some of it go to them. We advocate that the raise be split evenly between the residents and the owners, as it was for Dom Care.

Please ask DPW to “Split the SSI raise” so that some of our most vulnerable residents can better meet their own needs!

 

Have a letter writing table at your holiday party! You can use the attached postcards to send your message – just print them up on card stock.

 

Send to:

1. Governor Edward Rendell

225 Capital Building

Harrisburg, PA 17120

Or governor@state.pa.us

 

2. Your PA state legislators – You can find your legislator at www.congress.org. Type your zip code into the box beside “find your officials”. Send your message to your State Legislators.

 

Click here to download Christmas Postcards to get your message out to Pennsylvania State government Officials

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