The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs announced an open enrollment period at the end of 2022 for licensed substance use disorder (SUD) treatment providers in Pennsylvania to submit their information to be included in the Addiction Treatment Locator, Assessment, and Standards Platform (ATLAS). This open enrollment period has been extended through January 13, 2023.
Those who can take advantage of this extension include:
By completing the ATLAS survey during this open enrollment period, providers ensure that the information presented in their site’s profile on the ATLAS website is accurate. Providers also gain access to a customized portal that allows them to benchmark and compare their services against their peers. Contact Angad Buttar with questions or to have the treatment facility survey resent to your agency.
OMHSAS Approves RCPA Telehealth Extension Request
Deadline for Consent/Service Verification Compliance Now March 31, 2023
In an effort to assist provider members in their efforts toward consent and service verification compliance, RCPA requested an extension of the December 31, 2022, deadline. RCPA outlined ongoing challenges towards meeting these standards that included integrating new platforms into existing infrastructure, funding, training, and internal process changes.
Yesterday, we met with the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) to outline these concerns and review provider progress towards compliance. In response, OMHSAS has agreed to extend the date for meeting the consent and service verification standards to March 31, 2023. Funding concerns, especially in the middle of a budget year, were also discussed, and OMHSAS will make available funds to aid providers in implementing these practices.
As part of the RCPA Telehealth Work Group meeting at 10:00 am on Tuesday, December 20, 2022, we will be covering this and other telehealth topics on the agenda. These include our hope to conduct online polling on specific telehealth issues. You can register for the meeting here. Additionally, the second half of the meeting will feature OMHSAS Policy Director Jenna Mehnert Baker, who will provide updates, guidance, and a Q&A. We hope you are able to join us for this call, as your participation in the meeting will provide up-to-date information on your efforts and information that will assist RCPA in our collective endeavors.
We are grateful for the collaboration with OMHSAS and their willingness to extend the compliance timeframe. RCPA is committed to working with providers to ensure telehealth services remain a viable part of the service delivery continuum.
Please forward all questions you may have for OMHSAS to RCPA Policy Director Jim Sharp.
Read the OMHSAS response from Dr. Dale Adair below:
The purpose of this communication is to address concerns expressed by RCPA specific to the impact of ending OMHSAS’ bulletin suspensions on 12/31/22. There appears to be a significant amount of concern about providers’ ability to have telehealth platforms in place by 01/01/2023. Just to clarify, at no point has OMHSAS stated that providers must have HIPAA-compliant platforms in place by January 2023? It is important to note that the Pennsylvania General Assembly has defined telebehavioral health to specifically include platforms. Act 76 of 2022 defined: “Telebehavioral health technology. (i) Any of the following:(i) Real-time interactive audio and video communication using technology that conforms to industry-wide standards and is in compliance with Federal and State privacy and security laws.(ii) Real-time interactive audio-only telecommunication, provided that the use of audio-only telecommunication technology is consistent with Federal and State laws, guidance and requirements.(2) The term does not include technology solely using voicemail, electronic mail messages, facsimile transmissions or instant messaging, or a combination thereof.”
OMHSAS Memorandum dated February 18, 2021, that temporarily suspended portions of bulletins and other guidance documents, stated that “verbal consent must be documented at the time of service, and providers are strongly encouraged to obtain electronic signatures when possible.” This language allowed verbal consent without a second witness during the public health emergency. At that time, OMHSAS also stressed the need for providers to acquire platforms capable of securing electronic signatures. Given OMHSAS’ previous recommendation, providers have had nearly two years to secure a platform capable of securing electronic signatures for consent and service verification. DHS is intending to provide a funding opportunity for providers per the approved HCBS spending plan. OMHSAS continues to look for additional ways to support compliance with the expectations of the Pennsylvania Act 69 of 1999 (Electronic Transactions Act).
It remains imperative for all entities delivering MA funded behavioral health services to have policies in place to capture consent in a way that creates an auditable trail. There are multiple ways that providers of telebehavioral health can meet this requirement including messages typed into the chat box of an audiovisual platform, email, text messaging, USPS mail and two-person verification of a verbal consent secured over the phone. Given the options available to providers and the fact that since 02/2021 OMHSAS has stressed the importance of developing appropriate systems to capture electronic signatures, OMHSAS asks that providers meet federal and state expectations. Understanding the challenges providers are experiencing, OMHSAS will extend the bulletin suspension specific to consent to treat, service verifications and treatment plans only that is scheduled to end on 12/31/2022 until 3/31/23. Effective on April 1, 2023, providers are expected to capture consent to treat, service verifications and approval of treatment plans in a manner that creates an auditable file and in accordance with the timelines expected within regulation. While we understand the operational challenges, waiving the requirement that consent and service verification are secured in a manner that would withstand an audit any longer than three additional months is simply not possible. We believe the definition created in Act 76 serves to govern the delivery of telebehavioral health in the Commonwealth moving forward.
The Office of Long-Term Living’s (OLTL) American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funding portal was launched September 30, 2022. Since the launch of the ARPA Funding Reporting portal, OLTL has received a higher than anticipated volume of portal access change requests, causing a delay in access to the portal. OLTL has also identified portal functionality and data discrepancy issues for which they are working with the Information Technology (IT) Development team to implement resolutions. As OLTL works to resolve the issues, the ARPA Funding Reporting Portal initial reporting due date of November 30, 2022, is being extended to February 28, 2023. Please reference the chart below for updated bi-annual reporting periods.
|07/01/2021 – 12/31/2021
01/01/2022 – 06/30/2022
07/01/2022 – 12/31/2022
|01/01/2023 – 6/30/2023
|07/01/2023 – 12/31/2023
Portal Training & Support
Providers can use the DHS ARPA Reporting Portal User Guide to help navigate the new reporting portal. For portal access requests or questions, please contact the OLTL Provider Helpline at 800-932-0939, Option 2, or via email.
Theory to Practice:
Real World Applications of PBS Strategies
The Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) is requesting proposals that focus on the lived experience of professionals who provide support for individuals on the autism spectrum to present at the 2022 Pennsylvania Autism Training Conference: #PATCImplement2022. We will be highlighting the concept of implementing Positive Behavioral Support (PBS) practices. We want to give you the opportunity to share your PBS experiences, challenges, and successes.
September 26, 2022
For more information, including instructions on how to submit your proposal, see the flyer.
Today in a meeting with RCPA, Deputy Secretary Ahrens confirmed that even though the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) budget Blue Book indicates that Prudent Pay would be reinstated in Fiscal Year 2022/23, a decision has been made to continue the suspension. We anticipate a formal notification will be forthcoming. While we are grateful for the suspension for an additional year, RCPA will continue working with the legislature for a permanent solution.
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is extending the public comment period for the renewal of the Section 1115 Medicaid Demonstration titled “Medicaid Coverage for Former Foster Care Youth from a Different State and SUD Demonstration” (Project Number: 11-W-003083/3). The public comment period, which was originally slated to end on Feb. 15, 2022, is now extended to March 10, 2022, so the public can see the clarifications made in the Demonstration Extension page on the DHS website. The effective dates of the current approved demonstration are Oct. 1, 2017, through Sept. 30, 2022. The extension requested will be for an additional five years through Sept. 30, 2027.