Community HealthChoices will launch in western PA in January
Pittsburgh, PA – Today, Governor Tom Wolf visited the Stephen Foster Community Center in Lawrenceville to announce Community HealthChoices, a program to improve services for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians that will launch in 14 southwest Pennsylvania counties in January 2018. The governor was joined by Teresa Miller, Acting Secretary for the Department of Human Services; Teresa Osborne, Secretary of the Department of Aging; and Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive.
“Since I became Governor, my administration has been focused on improving health care across Pennsylvania, making it better and more convenient for patients and practitioners alike,” Governor Wolf said. “We spoke to those touched by our health care programs to hear how we could improve the care they get, and we found that one of the most important priorities was the ability to get high quality care close to home. Community HealthChoices delivers that ability to our patients, our seniors, and those with disabilities.”
Pennsylvania Simplifies Benefit Application Process for Older Adults and Individuals with a Disability
The Department of Human Services continues to improve customer service
The Department of Human Services (DHS) today announced a significant improvement in customer service and another success in the Wolf Administration’s push for “government that works” in Pennsylvania.
The department is now implementing a new simplified process called the Elderly/Disabled Simplified Application Process (ESAP) for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as the food stamp program. The federally approved process simplifies the SNAP application and recertification process for older Pennsylvanians and individuals with a disability who have no earned income.
“The new simplified process will help ensure that some of the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians have easier access to the SNAP benefits that are critical to their health and well-being,” said DHS Secretary Ted Dallas. “Through enhanced data matches and other steps, the ESAP process helps these Pennsylvanians overcome barriers such as limited mobility and lack of access to the internet and helps realize the governor’s vision of a government that works.”
ESAP is available to households that meet all of the following criteria:
“This initiative, part of Governor Wolf’s larger forthcoming statewide hunger plan, will increase SNAP participation by reducing barriers to participation and providing people with easier access to nutrition,” said Dallas.
“Hunger among seniors is a growing concern, and SNAP is a critical piece of the social safety net enabling older Pennsylvanians to access healthy and nutritious foods,” said Department of Aging Secretary Teresa Osborne. “DHS’ successful pursuit of a streamlined and simplified SNAP eligibility process will benefit seniors throughout the commonwealth, and highlights the positive results that occur when agencies work together to provide people with easier access to services and programs that have the capacity to improve their quality of life.”
On September 29, 2015, Governor Wolf brought together leaders from non-profit anti-hunger organizations, the food industry, and government to discuss food security in Pennsylvania and signed Executive Order 2015-12, which created the Governor’s Food Security Partnership.
To apply for SNAP using the ESAP form, visit www.compass.state.pa.us. For more information on SNAP benefits visit www.dhs.pa.gov.
Multi-faceted initiative will improve access to information on long-term supports and services
The Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Department of Aging (PDA) have collaborated to create PA Link to Community Care. This initiative will enhance Pennsylvanians’ ability to learn about and access a wide variety of long-term supports and services available through federal, state, and county agencies for persons with disabilities and older Pennsylvanians.
“We are committed to serving more people in the community and the IRT and COMPASS improvements are great tools to achieve that goal,” said DHS Secretary Ted Dallas. “Most people prefer to live at home, not in a facility, and we are working hard to help individuals with a disability and older Pennsylvanians to live where they choose and how they choose, just as any of us would want.”
The first public phase of the project was launched March 12, with an online information referral tool (IRT) and improvements to DHS’ COMPASS application. The next phase of the project will be to launch the PA Link to Community Care website, which will further enhance the commonwealth’s efforts to help individuals locate aging, disability, and other long-term care services in their county.
“While our call center presently responds to individual questions about aging and disability services, the PA Link to Community Care website will extend our availability beyond typical office hours and will better support individuals who prefer to do their own research on available long-term services and supports,” said Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne. “Based on the desire of the individual, these efforts further demonstrate our commitment to serve as a highly visible, accessible, and trusted resource for information intended to link persons with disabilities and older Pennsylvanians with the help and support necessary to age in place.”
In the first phase, Pennsylvanians can use the IRT anonymously to input information about themselves, a loved one, or client. The IRT will guide them through a series of questions, then provide a list of resources that are based on the client’s specific needs, in areas such as: intellectual disability, autism, physical disabilities, aging, addiction, mental illness, veterans’ needs, or help paying for prescriptions.
COMPASS is an online application where people can apply for many health and human service programs, such as Medicaid, cash assistance, or Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). With the COMPASS improvements, Pennsylvanians can submit applications for long-term living services and supports or request services for intellectual disability services, autism services, and early intervention services.
Anticipated to be launched this summer, the PA Link to Community Care website will serve as a companion piece, providing flexibility, and additional opportunity for Pennsylvanians to access important information about available long-term services and support programs.
The site will be an extension of our existing PA Link to Aging and Disability Resources call center whereby caregivers, family members, or individuals in need of information currently call in to ask about aging and disability services.
Pennsylvania was one of 21 states to receive federal funding for the initiative. The commonwealth spent the $104 million in federal funds directly on services to help people to remain living in their homes and communities rather than in facilities.
Agencies and individuals can access the IRT/COMPASS application through www.dhs.pa.gov/irt or
www.compass.state.pa.us and the PA Link to Aging and Disability Resources call center at 1-800-753-8827.
Department of Health Launches Pilot Program to Provide Drug Coverage for Uninsured Pennsylvanians with Hepatitis C and HIV
Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy and Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne announced today the Special Pharmaceutical Benefits Program (SPBP) is implementing a pilot program offering no cost coverage of hepatitis C antiviral medications for individuals with a dual diagnosis of HIV and hepatitis C. This pilot program will be a collaboration between the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Aging (PDA).
“Protecting Pennsylvania’s more vulnerable residents is one of the Wolf Administration’s primary objectives,” said Secretary Murphy. “Providing drug coverage for individuals suffering from hepatitis C or HIV who couldn’t otherwise afford the proper medical treatments is a part of our goal to ensure that every resident of the commonwealth has the ability to access needed medication.”
The $13 million, six-month program will be made available to hundreds of low-income Pennsylvanians with both hepatitis C and HIV and is funded through additional pharmaceutical liability recoveries made by the Department of Aging’s Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly program (PACE), which offers low-cost prescription medication to qualified residents, age 65 and older.
“The opportunity to partner with the Department of Health on this pilot program is an exciting opportunity to leverage 30-plus years of experience administering an effective prescription drug program with the Wolf Administration’s steadfast commitment to support the health of and improve the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians,” said Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne.
The SPBP is Pennsylvania’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), which is funded by a federal grant through the Health Resources and Services Administration Ryan White HIV/AIDS Part B Program.
The SPBP plays a vital role in providing access to medications for people living with HIV, including those with hepatitis C co-infection. The program serves low to moderate income individuals who are underinsured or uninsured and have a diagnosis of HIV.
In addition to HIV viral load suppression, maintaining optimal overall health is equally vital to the management of HIV disease and increases the quality of life for commonwealth citizens.
Individuals eligible for or enrolled in other prescription plans must utilize those benefits prior to SPBP.
For a full list of the medications, the approval criteria, request form and additional details, please go to the SPBP website at: www.health.pa.gov/spbp.
For more information about the PACE program, call 1-800-225-7223.
The Pennsylvania Department of Aging has announced that it will host the 27th annual National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) conference. The event will feature the nation’s leading adult protective services (APS) professionals and provide an opportunity for them to share their expertise. It is slated to take place in Philadelphia on Monday August 29 to Wednesday August 31, 2016 at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel.
This partnership comes at a time when elder justice has made its way to the forefront of an administration, as Governor Tom Wolf has listed his senior initiative as a top priority.
“Pennsylvania currently has the 4th highest percentage of individuals age 60 and over, tallying nearly 2.7 million statewide,” said Governor Wolf. “This reality only heightens our commitment to protecting our seniors from all forms of abuse and neglect, strengthening the safety net for all vulnerable adults and providing the platform where professional education and practice can take root and flourish in communities throughout the nation.”
The Department of Aging will work collaboratively with NAPSA to host a conference that sparks positive impact on the nation’s ability to protect its most vulnerable seniors.
“We are honored to serve as host for the 2016 Adult Protective Services Conference and look forward to welcoming others from around the country who share our passion,” said Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne.
NAPSA Executive Director Kathleen Quinn is enthusiastic about the opportunity to have this year’s conference in Pennsylvania. “NAPSA is thrilled to bring the only national conference for adult protective services to Pennsylvania, which has a long history of excellence in our field. The conference will be an opportunity for APS professionals serving both older adults as well as younger adults with disabilities in the Commonwealth to learn from the leading experts in the field of vulnerable adult abuse.”
“Protecting our seniors is a priority, which requires full commitment to creating a network that delivers vital services,” said Secretary Osborne. “This conference will serve as a pivotal step to further enhance our network and provide safer, more livable communities.”
For information on NAPSA, visit napsa-now.org, and for more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, visit aging.pa.gov.