On July 8th, Governor Wolf signed into law the FY 2022-2023 State Budget for Pennsylvania. It is a $45.2 billion budget (including Enhanced FMAP and ARPA funds) and is an 2.9% increase over FY 2021-2022. Senate Bill 1100 passed the House in a vote of 180-20 and the Senate in a vote of 47-3. Senate Bill 1100 provides general and additional funds for the 2022-2023 Fiscal Year, which runs July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023.
PA State Budget Finalized
Key bills part of the budget process:
You can access a spreadsheet that compares the FY 2021-2022 state funding with the state funds appropriated in Senate Bill 1100 here. Please note this spreadsheet does not have a separate breakout of the Federal Enhanced FMAP or ARPA dollar allocations within the General Appropriation.
We are still waiting for the different department to provide breakdowns on how money will be allocated/spent from the Senate Bill 1100. Many of the finer details will not be known till DHS releases their Blue Book later this summer/early fall – we will update you as more information comes available. Some key points we know now:
You can read The Arc of Pennsylvania's press release on the finalized budget here.
- Department of Human Services
- The ID Community Waiver line item will provide enough funding to remove 832 individuals off the Emergency Waiting list (732 individuals to the Community Living waiver and 100 individuals to the Consolidated Waiver.
- The ID Community Waiver line item will cover the recent rate refresh increase undertaken by ODP to raise DSP salaries to a $15/hour median. However, no additional state funds were allocated to raise the rates above ODP’s rate refresh.
- The human services fiscal code establishes an HCBS Augmentation fund in which savings from the closures of the PA’s state centers will go to provide further funding to HCBS, specifically DSP rates, housing, and removing more individual with IDD on the waiting list.
- ODP will no longer use the prudent pay system to pay providers for the services they give.
- Department of Education
- Special Education received a $100 million increase in funding. This is historic increase and brings the total increases to state Special Education over the last 3 years to $175 million.
- The education fiscal code includes a one year extension to Act 66 of 2021. The extension allows for students with disabilities who turned 21 during the 2021-2022 school year or between the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school year the ability to attend the 2022-2023 school year and stay through their 22nd birthday. Parents have until August 1st to make the decision on if their child will take advantage of the repeat school year. You can learn more on this at PDE’s website.
Act 55 of 2022 & Students with Disabilities Turning 21
On July 8, Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 55 of 2022 (Act 55) into law. The Act permits a student with a disability who was enrolled during the 2021-22 school year and turned age 21 during the 2021-22 school year, or between the end of the 2021-22 and the beginning of the 2022-23 school year, to attend a school entity during the 2022-23 school year and receive services as outlined on their most recent Individualized Education Program (IEP) with all the protections under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Parents/guardians and students who want to take advantage of Act 55 must complete, sign, and submit the Act 55 of 2022 Student Enrollment Notification Form to the student’s school entity on or before August 1, 2022.
Below is a link to the form to download and complete:
For a student with a disability who turned 21 during the time periods listed above: both the parent/guardian and the student must complete the form. Forms are to be submitted to the school entity in which the student will attend in the 2022-23 school year – they may not be submitted to PDE.
You can learn more on this at PDE’s website.
Disability in the News
Rollout of 988 – a Direct Line for Suicide Prevention and Crisis Support
Starting July 16, 2022, 988 will serve as a direct link for suicide prevention and crisis support. People who call, text, or chat with 988 will be directly connected to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The existing Lifeline phone number (1-800-273-TALK (8255)) will remain available.
Attached you will find a one-pager for 988. Information can also be found on the Department of Human Services’ website here.
Expanded Availability of At-home COVID-19 Tests for People Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision
Last month, the Biden-Harris Administration launched an initiative to expand the availability of at-home testing options that are more accessible for people who are blind or have low vision. The tests work with a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone app to provide users with audible instructions and test results. Read more about the tests.
Due to very limited supplies when the program began, each order included only two test kits. People were asked to order these tests only if they did not have options for using the traditional kits. Starting today, the program is expanding. People will now receive 12 test kits with each order. In addition, anyone who is blind or who has low vision is now encouraged to order the more-accessible tests.
If you placed an order before July 7 and received only two tests, you may place another order now to receive 12 additional tests. (Your name and shipping information are not retained after your order is filled, so there is no way to automatically ship additional tests.)
How to get the tests:
Order online or by calling 1-800-232-0233.
Need more assistance?
- Each order now includes 12 rapid-antigen tests that are more accessible for people who are blind or have low vision. These will ship in six separate packages, each with two tests. Each package will have a separate tracking number.
- Orders will ship free, while supplies last.
The trained staff at the Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL) can provide additional assistance with:
Call 888-677-1199 Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Eastern) or email DIAL@usaginganddisability.org.
- Ordering tests.
- Understanding instructions for test administration and test results.
- Providing alternative instructions for traditional at-home tests for people who are unable to access, read, or understand the manufacturer’s version.
- For those who cannot use an at-home test, DIAL operators can:
- Assist with ordering “swab and send” kits to collect a sample and mail it back for results.
- Connect callers to local organizations for assistance locating other testing options in their community, including in-home testing programs or transportation or companion support to visit a community-based testing site.
New Guidance Helps Schools Support Students with Disabilities and Avoid Discriminatory Use of Discipline
The U.S. Department of Education announced the release of new guidance from its Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) to help public elementary and secondary schools fulfill their responsibilities to meet the needs of students with disabilities and avoid the discriminatory use of student discipline.
These newly released resources are the most comprehensive guidance on the civil rights of students with disabilities concerning student discipline and build on the Department’s continued efforts to support students and schools through pandemic recovery.
Help Develop a New App That Helps Teens and Young Adults With Disabilities Speak Up for Their Needs
Teens and young adults ages 14-22 with intellectual or developmental disabilities can help develop a new app to evaluate skills for adulthood success and help speak up for their needs. The study involves one meeting either in person or online. A parent/guardian will also be asked to answer some questions about the teen/young adult. Compensation provided. To participate or ask for more information, please call 352-273-9365, email email@example.com, or visit https://yell.ot.phhp.ufl.edu.
Learn more here.
Study on Providing Direct Support during the COVID-19 Pandemic
This survey is being conducted by the National Alliance of Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) in partnership with the Institute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota. The goal of the survey is to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on direct support professionals.
Access the survey here.
House Appropriations Committee Approves Appropriations Bills
On June 30, the House Appropriations Committee approved its fiscal year 2022 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED) and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (T-HUD) appropriations bills. These bills include overall increases of 13% and 12%, respectively. Many of The Arc US' priority programs received substantial increases.
The most significant increases were Office of Disability Employment Policy (45%), Lifespan Respite Care Act (75%), State Grants to Remove Barriers to Voting (47%), IDEA Personnel Preparation (163%), and Vocational Rehabilitation Demonstration and Training Programs (172%). Click here to see a listing of discretionary programs and their proposed percentage cuts.
Additionally, the L-HHS-ED appropriations bill prohibits the Department of Education from funding any entity that uses electric shock devices as a form of aversive conditioning or discipline. If passed, the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center (JRC) will have to either cease use of their painful electric shock devices or forgo federal education funding. This language was included in the House-passed L-HHS-ED appropriations bill last year but was not included in the final package.
Education Department Announces Initiative to Support Students
On July 5, the Department of Education announced their newest initiative to support all students in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department launched the “National Partnership for Student Success," which will recruit 250,000 new tutors and mentors to support students.
You can read more about the initiative here
CMS Proposes Rule to Advance Health Equity, Improve Access to Care, and Promote Competition and Transparency
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is proposing actions to advance health equity and improve access to care in rural communities by establishing policies for Rural Emergency Hospitals (REH) and providing for payment for certain behavioral health services furnished via communications technology. Additionally, in line with President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy, the calendar year (CY) 2023 Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) and Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) Payment System proposed rule includes proposed enhanced payments under the OPPS and the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) for the additional costs of purchasing domestically made NIOSH-approved surgical N95 respirators and a comment solicitation on competition and transparency in our nation’s health care system.
For a fact sheet on the CY 2023 OPPS/ASC Payment System proposed rule, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/cy-2023-medicare-hospital-outpatient-prospective-payment-system-and-ambulatory-surgical-center.
For a fact sheet on Rural Emergency Hospitals, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/rural-emergency-hospitals-proposed-rulemaking.
The OPPS/ASC Payment System proposed rule is displayed in the Federal Register with a 60-day comment period. The proposed rule can be downloaded at: https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection/2022-15372/medicare-program-hospital-outpatient-prospective-payment-and-ambulatory-surgical-center-payment
When ASD Occurs with Intellectual Disability, a Convergent Mechanism for Two Top-Ranking Risk Genes May Be the Cause
"University at Buffalo scientists have discovered a convergent mechanism that may be responsible for how two top-ranked genetic risk factors for autism spectrum disorder/intellectual disability (ASD/ID) lead to these neurodevelopmental disorders."
Read more here.
'This Law Will Save Lives': New Florida Purple Alert to Protect Missing Adults with Disabilities
"A new Florida plan started Friday to protect missing adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities - and politicians believe it could've saved the life of a Treasure Coast man. Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Missing Endangered Persons Information Clearinghouse set the plan, known as the Purple Alert plan, into motion.It will help to find missing adults suffering from mental, cognitive, intellectual or developmental disabilities through alerts and support from the community in the search."
Read article here.
Advocates Call for More Autism Training for Crisis Hotlines Ahead of 988 Launch
"National suicide prevention hotlines are bracing for an influx of calls when the new, shorter number – 988 – launches July 16. Proponents are hopeful it will ease access to services, decrease unnecessary interactions with the police, and save lives. But some advocates are asking whether it will be ready to serve people with autism.
Research shows people with autism spectrum disorder have a much greater risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Despite this – and despite doctors identifying more than 2% of 8-year-olds as having autism – ongoing survey research indicates that many people with autism don’t feel served by these hotlines. Some advocates also fear that the 988 number may unintentionally increase the use of the Baker Act to detain children with autism at mental health centers."
Read article here.