On May 13 the PA Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) announced that American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds would be available for Innovation and Expansion Projects to serve customers of the PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) who have the most significant disabilities. L&I is requesting that grant applications be submitted for community projects that result in competitive employment of people with disabilities. (Competitive employment is defined as employment of persons with the most significant disabilities in a setting where most employees do not have disabilities and receive a wage comparable to other employees in the same position.) The number of projects and awards will vary based upon the responses. The awards will generally be in the $50,000 – $150,000 range. Up to $4,200,000 is available. L&I said that the short-term demonstration projects will target innovative local programs that will expand employment readiness programs, industry integrated employment and training programs, services for underserved and un-served populations who are eligible OVR vocational rehabilitation customers. A pre-proposal conference will not be scheduled. Therefore, questions regarding the content of the grant application must be submitted, in writing, via RA-LI-ARRA@state.pa.us. Frequently asked questions will be posted online at www.paworkforce.state.pa.us under Recovery Act Workforce Information, Vocational Rehabilitation – Vocational Rehabilitation Grants. Grant applications are due by 3:00 p.m. on June 11, 2010. The announcement, attachments and forms are posted at http://www.paworkforce.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/vocational_rehabilitation_grants/18929.
On May 11 the PA DPW Office of Adult Residential Licensing issued a regulation clarification to a notice previously issued on Regulation §:2600.64(c) on Administrator Annual Training. In its May 11 notice DPW said that any source of training that has received a continuing education approval number from the Pennsylvania State Board of Examiners of Nursing Home Administrators or program approval number from the National Association of Boards of Examiners of Long Term Care Administrators (NAB) is required to submit an application to Adult Residential Licensing and receive approval prior to offering the course to personal care home administrators for annual training hours. DPW said that numerous trainings approved by the Pennsylvania State Board of Examiners of Nursing Home Administrators and the National Association of Boards of Examiners of Long Term Care Administrators (NAB): 1) are not of the quality required for personal care home administrators, 2) are unrelated to the skills and competencies required for a personal care home administrator, and/or 3) are in conflict with 55 Pa. Code Chapter 2600 regulations. DPW says that in order to allow for conferences that have been approved by these sources and scheduled, this change is effective September 1, 2010. FMI: Contact PARF at email@example.com.
On May 12 PA Governor Edward Rendell announced that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has applied to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to manage the state’s high risk health insurance pool to be established under the federal health care reform law recently signed by President Barack Obama. The high risk health insurance pool will help uninsured Pennsylvanians who have pre-existing conditions that have kept them from securing affordable coverage elsewhere. Governor Rendell said his administration is developing the plan and will work with HHS and the Pennsylvania legislature to implement the new program. The program is expected to provide Pennsylvania access to more than $160 million of federal funds to offer coverage and care to high-risk Pennsylvanians until the new insurance exchanges called for in the reform law open in 2014. See story below – HB 2514 Provides for Insurance Coverage of Uninsured with Pre-Existing Conditions. FMI: For more information on the federal reform implementation in Pennsylvania, visit www.insurance.pa.gov and click on “Health Care Reform & You.” See also May 12 entry on news page at www.state.pa.us.
On May 13 PA House Majority Policy Committee held a public hearing on palliative care in Pennsylvania from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at The Children’s Institute in Pittsburgh. State Representative Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, requested the hearing and served as co-chairman. The agenda included testimony from the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (Dr. Steven Docimo, vice president of medical affairs and Carol May, manager of Supportive Care Program); Meghan Murphy, parent of palliative care patient; Nancy Zionts, chief program officer, Jewish Healthcare Foundation; and Dr. Robert Arnold, director of the Palliative Care Service, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center . FMI: For more information about the Policy Committee, see www.pahouse.com/PolicyCommittee.
On May 5 the U.S. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee held an oversight hearing on the state of care for troops and veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI). Committee Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) praised VA and DOD for making significant progress since a hearing on this issue in 2007 but cautioned that serious obstacles remain in providing the care that is needed. Officials from VA and DOD and experts from academia and the private sector discussed recent progress and highlighted areas where improvement is needed. More information about the hearing including statements, testimony and the webcast is available at http://veterans.senate.gov/.
On April 30 the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced that that it intends to issue two solicitations on or about May 17 for management of certain services for its Ticket to Work program. In one solicitation SSA will seek to procure the services of a Ticket Program Operations Support Manager (OSM) contractor for its Ticket to Work Program while the other solicitation aims at procuring the services of a Ticket Program Manager for Beneficiary Access and Support Services (BASS). The OSM contractor will be responsible for 1) recruiting experienced and highly-qualified Employment Networks 2) establishing and maintaining an EN Technical Assistance and Support Center (TASC); 3) facilitating/monitoring active Ticket program participation by ENs; 4) administering and supporting the Ticket assignment process; 5) administering and supporting the EN payment process. The Ticket Program Manager for Beneficiary Access and Support Services (BASS will be responsible for 1) Conducting Outreach to Beneficiaries – The BASS contractor shall implement and manage an ongoing, nationwide effort to Ticket-eligible beneficiaries to educate them on the benefits of participating in the Ticket Program; 2) Facilitating Beneficiary Access to ENs (The BASS contractor shall assist SSA in developing and executing strategies to facilitate access by Ticket-eligible beneficiaries to ENs capable and willing to serve them); and 3) Ensuring timely and accurate communication (The BASS contractor shall assist SSA by operating a call center with knowledgeable staff, and by maintaining a web site that will provide program-related information and a platform for beneficiaries to post and read comments about the Ticket Program). SSA anticipates awarding a cost-reimbursement type contract for each solicitation with a base year and four (4) one-year options. Request for Proposals Number SSA-RFP-10-1036 and SSA-RFP- 1037 scheduled for release on or about May 17 will be available for downloading at www.fedbizopps.gov for all interested parties. All questions must be submitted by email to Erica.Day@ssa.gov. Contracting Office Address: 1st Floor, Rear Entrance, 7111 Security Blvd., Baltimore, Maryland 21244. SSA published the two pre-solicitation notices on April 30 in FedBizOpps.gov regarding the Ticket to Work Program on April 30 in www.FedBizOpps.gov. See https://www.fbo.gov. See also https://www.fbo.gov.