Susquehanna Greenway Partnership Officially Designates Danville a ‘River Town’

Danville is presented with plaques and signage officially designating it as a Susquehanna Greenway Partnership River Town on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. (L-R) Trevor Finn, Montour County Commissioner;, Tom Forrestal, Merck Cherokee Pharmaceuticals and Danville Business Alliance Board of Directors; Matt Beltz, Columbia Montour Chamber; Dr. Ed A’Zary, Danville Borough Council; John Rodman, Danville Borough Council and Danville Business Alliance Board of Directors; Trish Carothers (kneeling), Susquehanna Greenway Partnership; Jamie Shrawder, Danville Borough; Ken Holdren, Montour County Commissioner; Gail Kulp, Susquehanna Greenway Partnership; Bob Stoudt, Montour Area Recreation Commission; Lauren Stoudt (front); David ‘Otto’ Kurecian, Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau; Dan Hartman, Montour County Commissioner; Ben Stoudt; Brian Stoudt.

Danville has successfully completed the process to be designated a River Town by the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership and a brief ceremony was held on Friday, Sept. 8 to unveil the official River Town signage at River Front Park in downtown Danville. 

The Montour County Commissioners and representatives from Danville Borough, Columbia Montour Chamber, Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau, Danville Business Alliance and the Montour Area Recreation Commission were all on hand to celebrate this achievement.

The Susquehanna Greenway Partnership is a nonprofit that seeks to:

  • Determine the status of regional greenway efforts;
  • Build upon public participation activities previously conducted in the corridor;
  • Promote the importance of strong community involvement in present and future greenway development;
  • Provide a diverse and inclusive program to maximize input from all segments of the population; and
  • Promote local ownership of the greenway plan and its implementation!

The SGP’s River Town program provides assistance to communities that are located on the Susquehanna Greenway “that seek to revitalize and celebrate their River connection, based on four key principles:

  • Respect and work with the nature of the Susquehanna River
  • Connect with the River (physically, visually, spiritually)
  • Involve people with the River and with their River Town
  • Recognize that economic development favors River Towns

Communities that would like to become an official SGP-designed River Town need to go through a process including a River Town assessment, define a community vision and goals, develop an action plan for revitalization projects, identify partners for implementation and collectively promote all River Towns. Through the help of many local community leaders and partners, Danville recently joined its nearby neighbors Lewisburg and Selinsgrove, among many others, as a SGP-designed River Towns. Berwick is also currently in the process of becoming a River Town. 

Information About the Participant Request Form Under Mental Health Parity

From ChamberChoice

In June 2017, the U.S. Departments of Labor, Treasury and Health and Human Services provided guidance under the Mental Health and Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). Released in the form of a Frequently Asked Question, the guidance also included a model form as assistance to participants for requesting a plan’s mental health or substance use disorder benefits, or to obtain documentation in support of an appeal. 

Background

The MHPAEA requires that financial requirements and treatment limitations for mental health and substance use disorder be in parity with the financial requirements and treatment limitations applicable to medical and surgical benefits. In plain language this means a plan’s coverage limits on mental health and substance use disorder benefits may not be more restrictive than medical and surgical benefits. Financial requirements include deductibles, copayments, coinsurance and out-of-pocket maximums. Treatment limitations reference limits on the number of days or number of visits covered and/or limits on the scope or duration of treatment.

Group health plans are required to disclose certain information to plan participants regarding coverage of mental health/substance use disorder benefits under the MHPAEA. Under the disclosure requirements, plan and insurers must:

• Disclose the criteria for medical necessity determinations related to mental health/substance use disorder benefits to current participants, beneficiaries, or contracting providers on request; and
• Provide the reason for denials (often referred to as an “adverse benefit determination”) of reimbursement or payment of mental health/substance use disorder benefits.

Plans that are subject to ERISA (private employer plans) include further disclosure requirements to plan participants, upon request, about the processes, strategies, evidentiary standards, and other factors used
to make a determination under its claim denial procedures.

Model Participant Request Form

The Departments issued a model form in June that may be used by health plan participants and their representatives to request plan documents concerning a plan’s or insurer’s MHPAEA related compliance. Along with other general information, the request form reminds employers subject to ERISA that the plan must provide plan documents addressing benefits upon request from a plan participant within 30 days of receiving a written request. The form further allows for a participant to seek information on a specific condition or disorder by requesting:

• Specific plan language regarding limits;
• Identify the factors used in the development of the limitations and evidentiary standards used to evaluate the factors;
• The methods and analyses used to develop limits; and
• Provide evidence showing that the limit is applied no more stringently to mental health/substance use disorder benefits than medical/surgical benefits.

The draft form is not required to be used by a participant when requesting information and a plan/insurer must respond to information requests even if the form is not used. However, the Departments indicated that a model form is helpful to participants when asking for information, and is more uniform and streamlined.

Eating Disorders

The same FAQ issued by the Departments in June also provided that an eating disorder is a mental health condition. As such, the benefits for the treatment of an eating disorder must be in parity with a plan’s medical and surgical benefits.

Conclusion

The provision of benefits for mental health/substance use disorder treatments continues to be on the radar of the regulatory Departments. Employer plans that are subject to ERISA should know that the issue of parity under the MHPAEA is a major issue under a DOL investigation. Plans may want to review the draft model request form in order to be prepared for any requests. This would also be a good opportunity for an employer to review the plan document’s claims and appeals process and procedures, to ensure compliance with ERISA. The model form can be used until finalized.

9-11 Memorial Planned at Bloomsburg University

Two Bloomsburg University student veterans place flags in the Academic Quad for last year’s 9-11 Memorial (from Bloomsburg University Facebook)

Bloomsburg University’s military students and volunteers will once again set up Bloomsburg’s annual September 11 memorial display, honoring veterans that have lost their lives since the terrorist attacks. The group will be placing 7,000 flags on the Academic Quad beginning on Sunday morning. BU’s military students are defined as current and former military peronnel, their spouses and dependents, and participants in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). On Monday, Sept. 11, there will be four moments of silence to commemorate the four planes crashing on Sept. 11, 2001. 

Bloomsburg Fair to Feature Several Chamber Members, Including Some Proceeds Going to Ronald McDonald House of Danville

The Bloomsburg Fair preview day luncheon

The Bloomsburg Fair held its annual fair preview luncheon on Wednesday, Sept. 6, and announced several new exhibits and participants in this year’s fair, which include several Chamber members.

On Tuesday, Sept. 26, for every regular-priced $8 admission ticket sold, $1 will go to benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Danville and its mission to provide a “home-away-from-home” for parents and families of children who are hospitalized or receiving outpatient care for the treatment of cancer and other serious illnesses. Children under the age of 18 will be admitted free on this day. 

New this year, PPL Electric Utilities will host a live line exhibit out of its trailer on 11th St. near the Sky Ride, which will feature “sparks, flames and crackle” that comes from electrical contact. Intended to show attendees the danger of and teach safety around electrical wires, the exhibit will feature a smaller-scaled version of utility poles and live wires, and will show what can happen when objects come in contact with 7,200 electrical volts. Daily demonstrations will take place and will last about 20 minutes.

WBRE-TV will be at the fair through its duration and will have live broadcasts and the opportunity for patrons to stop by and meet the Eyewitness News Team. 

Among the nearly 1,000 vendors signed up to participate at the fair, they include Chamber members such as Bason Coffee Roasting, 3B Consultant Services, the Columbia Montour Area Agency on Aging, the Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau, J.A. Aten Beef Jerky & Best Bar-B-Q Sauce, Mahindra of Bloomsburg, Luzerne County Community College, Renco Ace Hardware, Steph’s Subs, Wesley United Methodist Church and AGAPE Love From Above To our Community

Geisinger Fresh Food Farmacy Making a Difference for Diabetes Patients

Dr. Andrea Feinberg gives a presentation about Geisinger’s Fresh Food Pharmacy program to members of Geisinger Medical Center’s Advisory Council.

Meal choices are a major determining factor of personal health. Our bodies need certain nutrients to work properly or health will decline over time. This is even more apparent and important for people suffering from chronic diseases, such as diabetes, where the consequences are more severe. Geisinger’s Fresh Food Farmacy Program sees food as a medicine in maintaining proper health and preventing diseases.

Members of Geisinger Medical Center’s Advisory Council were provided an overview of the program recently by Dr. Andrea Feinberg. Dr. Feinberg is the Medical Director of Health and Wellness for Geisinger and is also the spouse of Dr. David Feinberg, Geisinger President and CEO.

The Fresh Food Farmacy is designed to address the health challenges faced by patients with diabetes and food insecurity. The program is being piloted in Northumberland County with scalability to those most in need throughout the extended region and the nation. Complimentary goals of the program include:

  • Ensuring that area residents with diabetes and those who suffer from food insecurity have access to quality healthcare and nutrition education, as well as to the nutritious foods they need to get and stay well
  • Narrowing the meal gap (i.e., the shortage of meals) in Northumberland County
  • Reducing the incidence of short-term diabetes complications
  • Decreasing the amount of diabetes-related medications the patient takes
  • Decreasing the patient’s cost-of-care burden
  • Educating members of the community on the connection between nutrition and wellness

The initiative, a partnership between the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and Geisinger, began its pilot phase in July 2016, when it enrolled six food-insecure patients with diabetes from Geisinger’s Kulpmont Clinic. Participants are not only given healthy foods, but recipes and guidance from a Geisinger dietitian. Members of the initial pilots have seen significant decreases in their HbA1c blood sugar levels and improvements in emotional well-being. The program will be implemented at other Geisinger locations over time.