Wolf Administration Announces Comprehensive Tool to Help Individuals Identify Resources for Substance Use Disorder Treatment, Related Support Services


December 6, 2018

Wolf Administration Announces Comprehensive Tool to Help Individuals Identify Resources for Substance Use Disorder Treatment, Related Support Services 

Harrisburg, PA – The Wolf Administration today announced the launch of the Drug and Alcohol Referral Tool (DART), an online resource designed to help Pennsylvanians seeking substance use disorder treatment for themselves or a loved one find treatment options and other related services in their area. The tool is a centralized hub that consolidates available resources to assist people looking for services but are not sure where to begin.

“The Wolf Administration has been very focused on expanding resources for individuals with substance use disorder as we battle the opioid epidemic,” said Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jen Smith. “A common concern that we have heard throughout the commonwealth is that individuals aren’t aware of the services and supports available to them. This web-based tool will allow individuals to have critical information on where to go and how to access the services they need.”

The DART tool provides resources based on a person’s age, county of residence, and veteran status, and can also list resources if a person is experiencing homelessness, has issues with transportation to treatment, or has legal concerns as well as programs that may be available depending on a person’s income. The tool does not evaluate eligibility for resources provided, but refers users to how they can obtain more information or assess their eligibility.

The tool is fully anonymous and can be translated into more than 100 languages.

“Substance use disorders often occur when a person experiences other medical and behavioral health concerns, and they may need additional resources to live a stable, healthy life in recovery,” said Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller. “Connecting people seeking treatment to comprehensive services that can help meet all of their needs from the start is critical as they work towards recovery.”

The DART tool can be accessed at www.ddap.pa.gov/GetHelp.

“Additionally, if an individual is need of a trained professional to assist them in finding substance use treatment or to learn more about programs, I encourage them to call Pennsylvania’s Get Help Now Hotline at 1-800-662-HELP. Regardless if an individual is insured, uninsured, or underinsured the hotline staff can connect you to the appropriate treatment resources you are seeking,” said Smith.

For more information on Pennsylvania’s response to the opioid crisis, visit www.pa.gov/opioids.

The Rural Hospital and Health System Affiliation Landscape – A Brief Review

Onyinye Oyeka, MPH; Fred Ullrich, BA; A. Clinton MacKinney, MD, MS; Joseph Lupica, JD; Keith Mueller, PhD

The shift from traditional fee-for-service to value-based payment requires major capital investment. Rural hospitals may be challenged by the volume-to-value transition because they may lack resources necessary to support new delivery models. As a result, many rural hospitals have considered affiliations with larger, better-funded regional health systems. However, rural hospital leaders often struggle to find the appropriate balance between local decision-making control and health system affiliation requirements. In this policy paper, we examine rural hospital and health system motivations for affiliation and present a non-exhaustive list of common affiliation structures with representative examples. Although hospital affiliation can take many forms, rural hospital leaders should develop a thoughtful strategy that weighs the benefits of affiliation versus independence.

Click to download a copy: The Rural Hospital and Health System Affiliation Landscape – A Brief Review

Comments Requested: Proposed Drug Pricing Changes for Medicare Advantage (MA) and Part D Plans

Comments Requested: Proposed Drug Pricing Changes for Medicare Advantage (MA) and Part D Plans – January 25.  CMS solicits public comments on potential Medicare policies intended to lower costs for beneficiaries and to provide MA and Part D plans with tools to lower the cost of prescription drugs.  Proposals include requiring Part D Explanation of Benefit statements to list drug pricing information, restricting Part D plans from prohibiting or penalizing a pharmacy from disclosing a lower cash price to an enrollee, and redefining the negotiated price paid to pharmacies.  Rural pharmacies report that payments from Part D plans are a major concern that affect their financial viability.

Rural Community Hospital Demonstration Report to Congress

Rural Community Hospital Demonstration Report to Congress.  In October, the CMS Innovation Center published the Report to Congress on the progress of the Rural Community Hospital Demonstration, which began in 2005 per the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 and has been re-authorized twice since.  The demonstration examines the effect of an alternative payment methodology for inpatient hospital services in small rural community hospitals with fewer than 51 beds that are not eligible to be Critical Access Hospitals.  Over a 12-year period, 33 hospitals participated at some point, and the demonstration increased payments on a per hospital, per year basis by 41 percent during fiscal year (FY) 2005-2009 and 42 percent during FY 2011-2013.

USDA Report on Rural Individuals’ Telehealth Practices

USDA Report on Rural Individuals’ Telehealth Practices.  The Economic Research Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture used detailed household data to analyze three basic telehealth activities as practiced by consumers age 15 or older: 1) online health research; 2) online health maintenance (communication with health providers, including communicating with medical practitioners, maintaining records, and paying bills); and 3) online health monitoring via devices that exchange data remotely with medical personnel.  The research found that rural residents were less likely than urban to engage in these telehealth activities, and the report breaks down the findings by income, education and other demographic factors.

Pennsylvania Department of Health announces Stop Overdoses in PA Week, December 10-14, 2018

Stop Overdoses in PA Week is a statewide initiative to give the overdose-reversal medication naloxone to Pennsylvanians for free and get help for residents suffering from the disease of opioid-use disorder.

“Last year, more than 5,000 Pennsylvanians died from an opioid overdose, and we all have to work together to stop this trend,” Governor Tom Wolf said. “My administration is making the overdose-reversal medication naloxone available for free on December 13 to any Pennsylvanian who wants it at 71 locations throughout the state . While naloxone will stop the overdose, it’s important to also call 911 for additional life-saving help and to get the patient to a hospital.”

During Stop Overdoses in PA: Get Help Now Week, residents will be able to go to a state health center, and some local health departments on December 13 to get the overdose reversal medication naloxone. This medication reverses the effects of an opioid overdose and gives the patient a chance at recovery.

For more information and to access press releases and other materials, see https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/Opioids/Pages/Stop-Overdoses-in-PA.aspx.

Changes to the Merit-based Incentive Payment System Pertinent to Small and Rural Practices, 2018

Abiodun Salako, MPH; A. Clinton MacKinney, MD, MS; Fred Ullrich, BA; and Keith Mueller, PhD

The Quality Payment Program (QPP) was established by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). The QPP consolidates existing Medicare pay-for-performance programs – the Physician Quality Reporting System, the Physician Value-based Payment Modifier, and the Medicare Electronic Health Record Incentive Program for Eligible Professionals – into a unified, cohesive program. MIPS is one of the two tracks of the QPP program and the regulatory framework for MIPs was originally provided by MACRA and CMS’s calendar year (CY) 2017 QPP final rule. This brief discusses changes to the original MIPS regulatory framework brought about by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 and the CY2018 QPP final rule.

Click to download a copy: Changes to the Merit-based Incentive Payment System Pertinent to Small and Rural Practices, 2018

USDA Announces Investments in Rural Community Facilities That Will Benefit More Than 761,000 Americans

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28, 2018 – Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $291 million to build or improve community infrastructure and essential services for 761,000 residents in 18 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

“Modern community facilities and infrastructure are key drivers of rural prosperity,” Hazlett said. “As partners to municipal, tribal and nonprofit leaders, we are investing in rural communities to ensure quality of life and economic opportunity now and for generations to come.”

USDA is investing in 41 projects through the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program. The funding helps rural small towns, cities and communities make infrastructure improvements and provide essential facilities such as schools, libraries, courthouses, public safety facilities, hospitals, colleges and day care centers. For example:

In Pennsylvania, six projects have been funded through this program:

  • Westmoreland Homesteads Volunteer Fire Department is receiving a loan in the amount of $1,082,500 to help construct a fire station. The current station is more than 80 years old, has drainage problems and is too costly to renovate. This project will benefit Mount Pleasant Township’s 11,153 residents.
  • North Coventry Township will use a $524,440 loan to provide additional financing to help construct a public works building and salt shed on a 22-acre parcel owned by the Township. The project will benefit the township’s 7,866 residents.
  • SRUF Student Housing, LLC is receiving a $3,000,000 loan to implement an energy savings project for six student housing dormitories at Slippery Rock University.
  • Lower Turkeyfoot Township will use a loan in the amount of $50,000 to construct an equipment maintenance facility and garage. The current building is no longer up to code and is unsafe. This project will benefit the 672 residents in the rural area of Lower Turkeyfoot Township.
  • Blair County Airport Authority is receiving a $1,957,570 loan to construct two airplane hangars and refinance debt. The current hangars at the airport in Kane Borough are occupied or in need of replacement. This project will benefit 2,644 people.
  • Keystone College will use a $9,800,000 loan to provide permanent financing to restructure debt to strengthen the college’s financial position. Keystone College has been in operation for 150 years and is a major employer in this rural part of Lackawanna County in northeastern Pennsylvania. This investment will benefit the college’s 1,523 students.

The projects announced today will help improve the quality of life in rural areas in Alaska, Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.

More than 100 types of projects are eligible for Community Facilities program funding. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally and state-recognized Native American tribes. Applicants and projects must be in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less. Loan amounts have ranged from $10,000 to $165 million.

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.

To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic(PDF, 190 KB).

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention

Multilevel issues of place and access confront American rural populations and intensify disparities in cancer risk factors, incidence, mortality, and other outcomes. Rural cancer control is a national priority and a key target in any strategic plan to sanction research and policy initiatives to reduce cancer health disparities. CEBP presents this Rural Cancer Control Focus Issue following a recently held NCI-sponsored conference assessing the current state of rural cancer control research.

Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention Editorial Office 
American Association for Cancer Research  |  Publications Division
615 Chestnut Street  |  17th Floor  |  Philadelphia, PA 19106-4404
Phone: (215) 440-9300  |  Fax: (215) 440-9337  |  E-mail:  cebp@aacr.org

Call for Workshop Presenters: 2019 Pennsylvania Mental Health and Wellness Conference

Submit a workshop proposal for the 2019 Pennsylvania Mental Health and Wellness Conference in Harrisburg. The deadline to submit a workshop proposal is Friday, November 30, 2018.

Sessions run 75 minutes in length and they should be interactive and include time for audience questions. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

Family and Caregiver Support

  • Sibling support
  • Self-care
  • Mindfulness
  • Respite
  • Family Engagement
  • Supports for Fathers

Organizational Development and Sustainability

  • Developing and Mentoring Effective Family Leaders
  • Social Media, Making it Work for Your Agency
  • Developing Diverse Funding Sources

Supports for Specific Populations

  • Early Childhood Mental Health
  • Military families
  • First generation, immigrant families
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender & questioning (LGBTQIA+) topics
  • Multi-ethnic families and children
  • Transition-age Services and Supports

Research to Practise

  • Brain/Neurobiological Research
  • Research and Evidence-based Practices/Interventions
  • Emerging Practices
  • New Research Findings
  • Early Childhood Mental Health
  • First Episode Psychosis
  • Trauma-informed Research Findings

Special Areas of Interest

  • Suicide Prevention and Awareness
  • Restorative Justice
  • Mental Health and Technology
  • Substance Use
  • Healing through the Arts
  • Rights Protection
  • Holistic Health, Wellness, and Recovery
  • Technology and Recovery

Submit Workshop Proposal online or download application.

For inquiries regarding workshops, please contact:

Susan Caban, Director of Education, NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania

Email: scaban@namikeystonepa.org

Phone: 412-366-3788