WILKES-BARRE — The Wolf administration announced last week that it has received $20 million in federal funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to continue the Money Follows the Person (MFP) grant.
MFP incentivizes states to focus on transitioning individuals out of long-term care facilities to be served in their communities in a residence of their choice.
“My administration firmly believes that all Pennsylvanians should have the opportunity to live in the community among family and friends and still receive services necessary to live a healthy, independent, and productive life,” Wolf said. “The Money Follows the Person grant allows Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services (DHS) to help thousands of Pennsylvanians live fulfilling, everyday lives in their communities.”
Pennsylvania has participated in MFP since 2008, and awarded funding is used primarily to expand home and community-based services, which allow people with long-term care needs to live in their own home in the community closer to family and friends and provides more opportunities for recreation, work, and independence.
Since 2008, MFP has helped Pennsylvania transition more than 4,000 individuals from nursing homes, private intermediate care facilities, and state centers to the community. DHS has used MFP funding to strategically invest in initiatives focused on housing, services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism, and quality of care and opportunities for those served in the community.
“The Money Follows the Person grant money makes the work the department does every day possible,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “We are grateful for the federal government’s continued support toward this important work.”
Projects that will be supported through this funding cycle include:
• Partnering with the Pennsylvania Department of Aging on expanding the Shared Housing and Resource Exchange (SHARE) housing pilot: First launched in 2016, SHARE helps match senior homeowners and home seekers to increase opportunities for affordable housing options for seniors and seniors with disabilities. SHARE was first launched in Pike, Monroe, and Wayne counties and now will be expanded to nine other counties.
• Supporting community-based housing opportunities for veterans experiencing homelessness or living in restrictive settings through the Fairweather Lodge Program: The Fairweather Lodge program is helping veterans who were homeless or in a restrictive setting and have been diagnosed with mental illness to integrate into the community by providing a place to live, employment, peer support, and skill building.
• Strengthening and simplifying service delivery for people with intellectual disabilities and autism: DHS’ Office of Developmental Programs will work with stakeholders and key partners to re-imagine operational processes so individuals with an intellectual disability or autism and their family may better coordinate services and receive more support in service planning and managing services received.
• Building capacity to support clients with co-occurring health needs: In 2016, DHS’ Office of Developmental Programs and Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services launched an initiative to better support individuals with intellectual disabilities and co-occurring behavioral health needs outside of institutional settings. More than 50 professionals in the intellectual disability/autism and mental health fields are convened annually to identify system issues and be trained in clinical best practices. This effort has also produced a conference series to further educate providers on needs of individuals with dual diagnoses and an online curriculum to help Pennsylvanians with dual diagnoses.
• Supporting employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities: There are individuals with disabilities who live in a community-based setting who would like to obtain competitive integrated employment. However, they may not be aware of opportunities and support available to gain employment or may fear losing access to needed services. DHS will partner with advocates on a campaign to educate people on how they and can obtain or maintain employment and maintain current services.
• Promoting safe and high-quality services in the community: DHS will strengthen mortality review processes for people who die while receiving services in their community through a waiver program to collect data and analyze risk factors to identify suspicious and avoidable deaths. This will help identify safety issues and improve outcomes for those to live in the community.
Federal funding for MFP is set to expire in September 2020. The United States House of Representatives passed House Resolution 3253 in June 2019, which would extend the MFP program through September 2024.
Senate unanimously passes
bipartisan Sept. 11 resolution
On the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the U.S. Senate has spoken with one voice honoring the heroes of that horrific day.
A bipartisan resolution offered by Senators Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley, Bob Casey, D-Scranton, and Mark R. Warner, D-Virginia, that commemorates the historical significance of the Sept. 11 National Memorial Trail (NMT) has been unanimously approved by the Senate.
The Sept. 11 NMT is a 1,300-mile network of roads and paths that connect the Pentagon Memorial (Arlington, Va.), the Flight 93 National Memorial (Shanksville), the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum (New York City), and the 9/11 Memorial Garden of Reflection (Yardley). The NMT also passes through parts of Maryland, West Virginia, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C.
Sen. Toomey: “On Sept. 11, we remember the atrocities that were brought upon our country. We remember the lives lost and the destruction that was caused. But we also remember the heroes. The first responders that raced into burning and collapsing buildings, the communities that came together to donate food, blood, and money. And we remember the exceptional bravery of those aboard Flight 93. The Sept. 11 National Memorial Trail serves as another tribute and remembrance of that fateful day and it’s fitting that the Senate came together to unanimously approve this measure.”
Sen. Casey: “Today, we remember the lives lost 18 years ago on Sept. 2001. We must honor those who showed valor and courage, like the heroes on Flight 93 and the first responders who risked their lives to save others in New York and Washington. Their acts of selflessness and bravery in the midst of that day’s attack united us as a Nation, and continue to inspire us to defeat those who invoke terror on the world. The Senate’s passage of this measure is a fitting way to honor that selfless legacy for years to come.”
Sen. Warner: “Virginia and our nation will forever remember the events of September 11, 2001. While we can never repay the sacrifices of our first responders or their families, the September 11th National Memorial Trail provides an opportunity for every American to remember the courageous individuals who sacrificed so much that day.”
Workshops aim to help
close gender pay gap in PA
The Pennsylvania Commission for Women last week announced it will be hosting a series of salary negotiation workshops for women across the commonwealth.
The initiative is made possible through a partnership with the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and its Work Smart program. The workshops will be offered at no cost to participants.
“It is unacceptable that women in Pennsylvania are still making just 80 cents on the dollar compared to what a man makes, and there are far too many employers who refuse to even acknowledge the gender pay gap, much less work to eliminate it,” said Gov. Tom Wolf. “Women deserve equal pay for equal work.”
In Pennsylvania, women working full time are paid just 80 cents for every dollar paid to a white male, and the gap is even wider for women of color. Since 2018, the Commission for Women has been working to advocate for legislative and policy changes to equal pay laws and business practices on a statewide level. Specifically, the commission joined first lady Frances Wolf to host a series of roundtable discussions on equal pay following Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2018 equal pay executive order for state employees.
The workshops will first be available in several locations across the state, including Wednesday, Oct. 16, at King’s College, and Tuesday, Nov. 19 at the University of Scranton.