PA Department of Human Services Discusses Spending to Support Mental Health Services, Children

PA Department of Human Services

HARRISBURG, PA — Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) is highlighting Pennsylvania’s spending plan for approximately $1.2 billion in enhanced federal Medicaid funding made available to states through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). This funding will support Medicaid’s home and community-based services (HCBS) system throughout the commonwealth, which helps seniors, people with disabilities, children with complex medical needs, and many other groups safely live in their community among their family and peers. This funding will strengthen Pennsylvania’s home and community-based services system by allowing more Pennsylvanians access to critical services in their communities and supporting service providers that perform this work every day.

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the professionals who care for our most vulnerable, including children, seniors, people with disabilities, and those needing mental health services,” said Acting Secretary Meg Snead. “This enhanced funding through the American Rescue Plan Act will allow employers to recruit and retain skilled workers and allows them to plan for the future to provide training, certification, technology access, and much more.”

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DHS received conditional approval of its spending plan on December 1 from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. DHS outlined how funding will be used through the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS), the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), and the Office of Medical Assistance Programs (OMAP).

  • OMHSAS will prioritize funding for workforce recruitment and retention to qualifying providers, specifically mobile crisis mental health services, intensive behavioral health services (IBHS), psychiatric rehabilitation, and family-based mental health services. While many mental health services are not considered HCBS under ARPA, within the parameters of this funding opportunity, OMHSAS also will invest in training clinicians in trauma-informed treatment modalities, technology and training for telehealth, and updating the state hospital system’s technology infrastructure and providing staff training for use of electronic health records to facilitate more efficient transitions to community-based placements and services.
  • OCDEL supported a 3 percent rate increase for Infant/Toddler Early Intervention services, which allows all providers of Early Intervention services, including Service Coordination, to receive a 3 percent rate increase for services. This rate increase went into effect on July 1, 2021.
  • OMAP will use the recommendations of its pediatric shift care nursing workgroup to inform ARPA spending with a focus on achieving the following goals: improve care and service coordination for children with complex medical needs; support training of private duty nurses; leverage health information technology to allow for the sharing of clinical information; use a value-based payment structure for managed care organizations to improve outcomes of children receiving pediatric shift care nursing services; and facilitate co-training opportunities for both shift nurses and families to help improve coordination, continuity, and support among caregivers.
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“When we invest in the caring workforce, Pennsylvania benefits both socially and economically,” said Acting Secretary Snead. “Having care provided in your own home or within your community allows family caregivers to be part of the workforce themselves and it allows those needing home and community-based services to stay safe, healthy, and to thrive.”

More information about Pennsylvania’s home and community-based services spending plan is available on DHS’s website.

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