Gov. Wolf Announced $260 mil funding for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities and Autism

Your Update for 6-15-20

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Press Conference with Governor Wolf and Secretary Miller:

Today at 2:00 pm, Governor Wolf, and Secretary Miller of the Department of Human Services held a press conference to announce funding to support intellectual disability and autism services.

Governor Wolf and Secretary Miller announced $260 million in funding to help people and providers of support services for individuals with intellectual disabilities or autism.

>>Tips to protect seniors from financial abuse

The $260 million will be allocated as follows:

  • $90 million to providers of residential, respite, and shift nursing services;
  • $80 million to providers of Community Participation Support services for 120 days of retainer payments, covering operations from March through June; and,
  • $90 million to providers of in-home and community, supported and small group employment, companion, and transportation trip services for 120 days of retainer payments, covering operations from March through June.

Update from the Pennsylvania Department of Health:

Secretary Levine and the Department of Health are not holding press conferences on the weekend. However, the Pennsylvania Department to Health did release an update today (June 15) on COVID-19 in the Commonwealth.

The number of cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania has reached 79,121, an increase of 323 cases from yesterday. There were 28 new deaths associated with COVID-19, bringing the total deaths in Pennsylvania to 6,243. There were 630 positive serology tests, which are counted as probable cases of COVID-19.

>>Ten additional testing sites opening around PA on June 17

There are 16,612 residential cases and 2,936 employee cases in 642 long-term care facilities in 47 counties, which includes nursing facilities and personal care facilities. There have been 4,268 reported deaths in long term care facilities due to COVID-19. Deaths in nursing and personal care facilities account for ~68% of the total deaths in Pennsylvania. Long-Term Care Facilities Dashboard.

74% of individuals who have contracted COVID-19 in Pennsylvania have recovered.

According to the Hospital Preparedness Dashboard, 45% of hospital beds, 38% of ICU beds, and ~79% of ventilators in Pennsylvania Hospitals are still available. A total of 5,996 COVID-19 cases are in healthcare workers.

An Update from DC:


Police Reform Package

The House Judiciary Committee meets Wednesday to markup legislation that would curtail the transfer of military equipment to police departments, make it easier for an individual to sue police officers for alleged rights violations, criminalize chokeholds by police, and make lynching a federal crime. The bill would authorize $750 million over three years for states to set up independent prosecution programs for cases involving an officer’s deadly use of force and $300 million over three years for state investigations into abusive police practices. It would also authorize funding for a number of reports and the collection of data on use of force and racial profiling.

On the other side of the Hill, Senate Republicans are weighing proposals including racial bias training, increased use of body cameras and enacting the first federal anti-lynching law. Sen. Tim Scott, who is leading the Senate Republicans’ efforts, laid out the three elements of the Republican bill: localities should provide information to the Justice Department when there’s serious bodily injury or death; a focus on tactics and training; and drilling into officer misconduct.
Separately, the Senate Judiciary Committee plans a hearing tomorrow on police use of force and community relations.

While Democrats are calling for measures ranging from fundamental overhauls to targeted reforms, Senate Republicans are weighing proposals including racial bias training, increased use of body cameras and finally enacting the first federal anti-lynching law. However, both Republicans and Democrats over the weekend suggested there was room for a bipartisan compromise on legislation.

COVID-19 Safety

A return to normalcy in the United States might be “a year or so” away, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said. He also noted that “it’s conceivable we get two or three” effective COVID-19 vaccines based on early trial results.

Separately, stricter social distancing measures may need to be reimplemented by states if COVID-19 cases rise “dramatically,” said CDC Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases Jay Butler, adding that such decisions should be made locally and dependent on “what is happening within the community regarding disease transmission.”

Highway Bill

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will mark up legislation to authorize federal aid for highways and transit programs on Wednesday. The bill would authorize highway, transit, and rail programs through fiscal 2025. It would authorize $494 billion over five years, including $411 billion from the Highway Trust Fund, which would be a 46% increase over current levels, according to a committee summary. The measure includes new infrastructure investment programs and policies to address the environment and boost the resilience of infrastructure against extreme weather and climate change.

Main Street Lending Program

The Federal Reserve has announced that it is establishing a Main Street Lending Program (Program) to support lending to small and medium-sized businesses that were in sound financial condition before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, lender registration is now open. Registration instructions and the form loan participation agreement, form borrower and lender certifications and covenants, and other required form agreements can be found on the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Main Street Lending Program Forms and Agreements website. The Federal Reserve is currently working to create the infrastructure necessary to fully operationalize the Program. We will provide updates when businesses can apply for the Main Street Lending program through their banks.

Paycheck Protection Program

A House panel overseeing the coronavirus response is launching probes into how several banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo & Co and Citigroup Inc., made decisions about how to implement small-business loans under the government’s Paycheck Protection Program. The investigations, launched by the Democratic-led Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, is seeking to determine whether banks and Treasury Department guidance favored larger, well-connected businesses over smaller companies from rural or minority communities when making small business loans to combat the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

WHO Report

House Republicans recommend the U.S. remains a member of the WHO and pushes for reforms of the agency in a report probing the origins of the virus. While the WHO failed to “uphold its mandate” and fulfill its obligations to member states, “we do not believe the withdrawal of the United States or the establishment of a competing international organization is the correct path forward,” lead Republican Rep. McCaul said.

Business Community:

Governor Wolf’s Plan to Reopen Pennsylvania:

On April 22, Governor Wolf announced his plan to reopen Pennsylvania, focusing on a regional decision making approach. Along with the previous standards the Governor announced last week, he highlighted that the data-driven decision making process will be done in consultation with Carnegie Mellon University.

The three color phases determine when regions are ready to begin easing restrictions on businesses, stay-at-home orders, large gatherings, child care and more. The three phases are red, yellow and green, with the entire state currently in the red phase. Movement between phases will be based on the population incidence rate above.

Red Phase:

The red phase singularly purpose is to minimize the spread of COVID-19 through strict social distancing, non-life sustaining business and school closures. There are currently 0 counties in Phase Red

  • Life Sustaining Businesses Only
  • Congregate Care and Prison Restrictions in Place
  • Schools (for in-person instruction) and Most Child Care Facilities Closed

Yellow Phase:

The stated purpose of the yellow phase is begin to power back up the economy, while maintaining social distancing while easing restrictions on certain businesses and travel. However, the Department of Health will maintain strict monitoring over public health data to contain COVID-19. Guidance for businesses in Counties in the Yellow Phase. With 12 additional counties moving to Phase Green, there are 21 counties in Phase Yellow. Eight additional Counties will move from Phase Yellow to Phase Green on June 19.

  • Telework Must Continue Where Feasible
  • Businesses with In-Person Operations Must Follow Business and Building Safety Orders
  • Child Care Open with Worker and Building Safety Orders
  • Stay-at-Home Restrictions Lifted in Favor of Aggressive Mitigation
  • Large Gatherings Prohibited
  • In-Person Retail Allowable, Curbside and Delivery Preferable
  • Indoor Recreation, Health and Wellness Facilities (such as gyms, spas), and all Entertainment (such as casinos, theaters) Remain Closed
  • Restaurants and Bars Limited to Carry-Out and Delivery Only

Green Phase

The green phase should facilitate a return to a “new normal”, by easing most restrictions on stay-at-home orders and business closures. Strict adherence to CDC and Health department guidelines are required, and similar to the yellow phase, monitoring of public health data will continue. 12 new counties moved to Phase Green on June 12, increasing the total count of counties in Phase Green to 46. Eight additional counties moving to Phase Green on June 19.

All Businesses Must Follow CDC and PA Department of Health Guidelines

  • Aggressive Mitigation Orders Lifted
  • All Individuals Must Follow CDC and PA Department of Health Guidelines

The standards previously highlighted by Governor Wolf:

  • Our approach will be data driven and reliant upon quantifiable criteria to drive a targeted, evidence-based, regional approach to reopenings in Pennsylvania.
  • We will put forth guidance and recommendations for employers, individuals, and health care facilities for assured accountability as we reopen.
  • Reopening necessitates that adequate personal protective equipment and diagnostic testing are available.
  • Reopening requires a monitoring and surveillance program that allows the commonwealth to be deploy swift actions for containment or mitigation.
  • Protections for vulnerable populations must remain steadfast throughout the reopening process, such as limitations on visitors to congregate care facilities and prisons.
  • Limitations on large gatherings unrelated to occupations should remain in place for the duration of the reopening process.

Guidance for Pennsylvania:

Critical Needs Portals:

COVID19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance Grants:

On June 8, Governor Wolf announced a $225 million grant program for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Today, June 11, the Department of Community and Economic Development released guidelines for the use of funds and additional application information.

  • $100 million for the Main Street Business Revitalization Program
  • $100 million for the Historically Disadvantaged Business Revitalization Program
  • $25 million for the Loan Payment Deferment and Loss Reserve Program

With the application closed for the CWCA, please look into the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program or the Paycheck Projection Program.

Press Releases:

Gov. Wolf Announces $260 Million in Funding to Help People with Intellectual Disabilities and Autism during Pandemic

June 15, 2020

Governor Tom Wolf announced that people with intellectual disabilities and autism and the providers of support services for these vulnerable Pennsylvanians will receive $260 million in CARES Act funding to help continue to provide services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Wolf was joined by Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller, who outlined to details of funding allocations.

The $260 million will be allocated as follows:

  • $90 million to providers of residential, respite, and shift nursing services;
  • $80 million to providers of Community Participation Support services for 120 days of retainer payments, covering operations from March through June; and,
  • $90 million to providers of in-home and community, supported and small group employment, companion, and transportation trip services for 120 days of retainer payments, covering operations from March through June.

Pennsylvania Launches New Policies to Increase Diversity among State Contractors

June 15, 2020

Continuing his commitment to small businesses (SBs) and small diverse businesses (SBDs), Governor Tom Wolf announced new procurement changes to improve opportunities for minority-, women-, LGBT-, veteran- and disabled-owned businesses ¬– to compete for state government contracts and succeed in the commonwealth’s economy.

Today’s actions are the direct result of the governor’s Diversity, Inclusion and Small Business Opportunities in Commonwealth Procurement and in Pennsylvania’s Economy executive order signed in 2015. The order created the Bureau of Diversity, Inclusion and Small Business Opportunities (BDISBO) within the Department of General Services, the Governor’s Advisory Council on Diversity Inclusion and Small Business Opportunities and led to the 2018 Statewide Disparity Study which examined disparities in the commonwealth’s contracting system and made recommendations for improvement.

There are three new changes taking effect.

Department of Aging: Wolf administration launches new online training for mandatory reporting of elder abuse to mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

June 15, 2020

Harrisburg, PA — In response to and in recognition of Governor Wolf’s Executive Order on Vulnerable Populations, the Pennsylvania Department of Aging has created a free, online Mandatory Abuse Reporting training module to help aging and human services providers recognize and report elder abuse.

The training is being publicly launched on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD), which is commemorated on June 15 each year. WEAAD is an opportunity for people and organizations to take action to protect older adults by raising awareness about elder abuse, why it occurs, and what can be done to stop it. Learn more about WEAAD activities and resources here.

The module was developed to reach a broad audience from entry-level to seasoned professionals. The training takes about 30 minutes to complete and includes knowledge checks throughout to ensure that participants understand the information. A printable certificate recognizing the successful completion of the training module is available. This training module will also help to ensure that facilities are compliant with licensure requirements.

The training is available on the PDA Learning Management System (LMS). Anyone with an existing account may access the Mandatory Abuse Reporting Training Course by clicking here to login. Individuals who do not have an established PDA LMS training account, and are not associated with a AAA can click here to request an account.

Tips to Protect Seniors from Financial Abuse

June 15, 2020

Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Banking and Securities (DoBS) is reminding Pennsylvanians about signs of senior financial exploitation and ways to help prevent this type of abuse.

While elder financial abuse can happen at any time, perpetrators often strike during times in a senior’s life when they may be more vulnerable, such as during a health crisis or after the death of a loved one. Scammers often gather personal details from obituaries and social media posts and use this information to target their victims. Some even will exploit trust within seniors’ social and support groups to become more involved in their lives. 

Warning signs of senior financial exploitation can be difficult to identify or recognize. Common signs to watch for include:

  • A new and overly protective friend or caregiver or surrendering control of finances to a new friend or partner.
  • Fear or sudden change in feelings about somebody.
  • A lack of knowledge about financial status or reluctance to discuss financial matters.
  • Sudden or unexplained changes in spending habits, a will, trust, or beneficiary designations.
  • Unexplained checks made out to cash, unexplained loans, or unexplained disappearance of assets (cash, valuables, securities, etc.). Also watch for suspicious signatures on the senior’s checks or other documents.

Insurance Department Announces Remote Testing Option for Exam Candidates

​June 15, 2020

Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman today announced the availability of a remote testing option for insurance license exams. Candidates can opt for remote testing beginning July 1, 2020. 

Pennsylvania’s exam vendor, PSI, currently offers testing at 10 physical locations in various cities across the state. Remote testing technology will provide candidates with the option to sit for an exam from their own preferred location, eliminating travel and COVID-19 concerns. Beginning July 1, examinations offered in person and via remote testing will be offered in English, and newly added neutral Spanish and simplified Chinese, which the department hopes will facilitate a more diverse group of insurance producers in Pennsylvania. 

Exam candidates opting for remote testing must have a computer with a webcam; smartphones and tablets are not compatible with the technology requirements. The candidates’ devices will be tested for technology compatibility when they register and opt for remote testing. If their devices and/or internet connection do not meet the criteria, the candidate will need to schedule an appointment at a physical PSI testing location. 

Gov. Wolf Announces 10 More Testing Sites in Areas with Limited Access

June 15, 2020

Governor Tom Wolf announced today that beginning Wednesday, June 17, nine more COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites will open in Walmart parking lots across the state, bringing the total to 19 sites at Walmart locations. Quest Diagnostics and Walmart are working with the department to provide no-cost testing for residents living in areas where there are fewer testing sites. Another testing site has also been added in Venango County, which previously had only one site, bringing the total of new testing sites to 10.

Beginning June 17 these sites will be open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. to test up to 50 registered patients daily. Registration is required one day in advance. There is no COVID-19 testing inside Walmart stores or Quest Diagnostics Patient Service Centers.

The testing sites that will open on Wednesday include:

  • Walmart Supercenter parking lot, 1887 Elmira St, Sayre, PA
  • Walmart Supercenter parking lot, 1665 N Atherton St, State College, PA
  • Walmart Supercenter parking lot, 108 Washington Towne Blvd N, Edinboro, PA
  • Walmart Supercenter parking lot, 2501 W State St, New Castle, PA

This newsletter was prepared by Ridge Policy Group, a top Pennsylvania lobbying firm.

Written by

Ridge Policy Group

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