PCC Spotlight on Maternal Health

In the fall of 2019, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PCC) released their report, “State of Children’s Health Care in Pennsylvania: Powering Up Healthy Kids,” which sets a clear agenda to strengthen both access to and coverage benefits in health care for the Commonwealth’s children.

Did you know that making sure expectant mothers have health insurance can improve a child’s health and development? Medicaid has helped more women gain access to the care they need before, during, and after pregnancy, improving their health and the health of their newborn.  Research shows maternal health directly impacts child health, which is why PPC supports policies to improve outcomes for moms and babies, including:

  • Extending the Medicaid postpartum coverage period to 12 months (currently it is 60 days) to provide continuous health care to moms during a medically vulnerable time after giving birth.
  • Expanding home visiting services by increasing state investments as well as other funding sources including Medicaid in order to assist additional families and provide them with the tools and resources to build the foundation for a successful future.

A New Agreement on ‘Surprise’ Bills

Three top lawmakers in the House and Senate announced that they have reached an agreement in principle on legislation to address so-called “surprise” medical bills that would set payment rates for out-of-network care based on a benchmark of the median in-network rate in a given area, and also establish an arbitration process for health care providers to appeal the payments for some large claims. The lawmakers did not reveal many details of the agreement, but said they hope to include the legislation in an end-of-year spending package. (Source: Modern Healthcare, 12/8)

CMS Flags Nursing Home Citations

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on its Nursing Home Compare website has added a new icon—a red circle with a white stop hand in the center—to ratings for 760 facilities, indicating that the facilities have been cited for an incident of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Consumer advocates have applauded the move, but some in the nursing home industry say the alerts are misleading. (Source: Wall Street Journal, 11/19)

Home Heating Assistance is Now Available for Pennsylvania Families

LIHEAP, which stands for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, helps families living on low incomes pay their heating bills in the form of a cash grant. Crisis grants also are available for households in immediate danger of being without heat.

How cash grants work 

A one-time payment is sent directly to the utility company/fuel provider and is credited on the heating bill. Cash grants range from $200 to $1,000 based on household size, income, heating region, and fuel type.

Qualifying crisis situations 

  • Broken heating equipment or leaking lines that must be fixed or replaced
  • Lack of fuel
  • Main heating source has been completely shut offDanger of being without fuel (less than 15-day supply)
  • Danger of having utility service terminated (received a notice that service will be shut off within the next 60 days)

 Eligibility

  • There are income guidelines.
  • Applicants do not have to be on public assistance.
  • Applicants don’t need to have an unpaid heating bill.
  • Applicants can rent or own their home.

What’s needed to apply?  

  • Names of people in the household
  • Dates of birth for all household members
  • Social Security numbers for all household members
  • Proof of income for all household members
  • Recent heating bill or delivery receipt from the previous year

[For crisis situations, a person may need a copy of the shut-off notice.]

How to apply  

Pennsylvanians can apply for LIHEAP three ways: online, on paper, and in person.

Online

Apply for LIHEAP benefits online using COMPASS. New this year: Those who received LIHEAP last year can apply for home-heating assistance via the mobile app, myCOMPASS PA. They’ll need the preseason application or green postcard we sent via mail to apply on the app.

On paper

Pennsylvanians can download an English or Spanish version of the application, fill it out, and return it to their county assistance office.

In person

Pennsylvanians can visit their county assistance office for help filling out the application in person. Applications also are available at senior centers and other community agencies.

Contact us for help  

For more information about LIHEAP, Pennsylvanians can call the LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095, or can contact their county assistance office, Monday through Friday. Individuals with hearing impairments may call 711.

Visit the website  

Find all of this information and more on the DHS website. View the state plan for LIHEAP and download brochures to print and share.

November Marks National COPD Awareness Month

The Technical Assistance and Services Center (TASC), a program of the National Rural Health Resource Center, is pleased to announce a collection of resources for rural hospitals and provider-based rural health clinics to address disparities in COPD related care. This project was supported by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy via the Fiscal Year 2018 Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Supplemental Project.

Resources, Resources, Resources!

All of the resources from this project can be found on the TASC website. They include:

  • The Rural Hospital Guide to Improving COPD
  • The Rural COPD Podcast series
  • Three webinars relating to COPD

Access the COPD section of the website by clicking here.

HHS Request for Information: PreventionX

Health care for preventable non-communicable diseases, including heart disease and stroke, diabetes, and obesity costs the overall US healthcare system over $580 billion annually. More than 30 million Americans are now living with diabetes, 75 million are hypertensive, and nearly 40% of American adults are obese. There is need to transform chronic disease prevention in the US by identifying and scaling effective and innovative community-wide prevention strategies and increase financial investment in prevention. To help the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) better understand the barriers to effective chronic disease prevention, email your responses to preventionx@hhs.gov, with the subject line “PreventionX RFI Comment” by December 13, 2019.  Click here for more information..

New Rural Toolkit for COPD

Rural communities face many challenges to addressing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a condition affecting the lungs that is a major cause of death and disability in the United States.  This new toolkit from the Rural Health Information Hub provides a rural-specific overview of the disease and treatment, resources for implementing effective COPD programs, and models of programs that have proven effective in rural communities.  The toolkit can be accessed here.

New Guidelines for Long-Term Use of Opioids

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services released a guide for clinicians on tapering or discontinuing long-term opioid prescriptions.  Individual patients, as well as the health of the public, benefit when opioids are prescribed only when the benefit of using opioids outweighs the risks.  But once a patient is on opioids for a prolonged duration, any abrupt change in the patient’s regimen may put the patient at risk of harm and should include a thorough, deliberative case review and discussion with the patient.  While rates of prescribing have declined in recent years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports data showing opioid prescribing rates have been significantly higher in nonmetropolitan counties than in metropolitan counties.  The Guideline can be accessed here:  New Guidelines for Long-Term Use of Opioids.

Are Changes to Team-Based Care Models Needed for the Future?

Researchers have called for a new model of team-based care called “advanced team care with in-room support” in a report in the Annals of Family Medicine. They state that old primary care team models are “underpowered” and where the new model has been deployed, there has been improved productivity and growth, as well as enhanced patient and staff satisfaction. The researchers also contend the model would “allow clinicians to shed that portion of clinical and administrative work that a well-trained, well-staffed team could easily perform.” Attend “Team-Based Care: Empowering Patients, Reducing Provider Burnout and Achieving Quality” at our Annual Conference & Clinical Summit.  You’ll hear how one health center has created a financially sustainable structure that is transparent, promotes both patient and provider buy-in to team-based care, and incorporates performance improvement, care coordination, behavioral health and primary care providers in a synergistic manner in utilizing their team-based care model.

Addressing Diabetes Factors through School & Community Partnerships 

The National Nurse-Led Care Consortium and School-Based Health Alliance have created a resource, “Addressing Diabetes Factors in Elementary School Children Through School and Community Partnerships.” Health centers can play a powerful role in performing appropriate screening, prevention and management of elementary-aged children with obesity and other pre-diabetic indicators by collaborating with schools and other community partners.