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For Immediate Release
November 14, 2016

Julie Naughton, Public Information Officer, Communications and Legislative Services, (office) 402-471-1695 or (cell) 402-405-7202, 

DHHS Chalks Up PASRR Win

Lincoln—Nebraskans in need of long-term nursing facility care are being served more quickly than ever, thanks to the work of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

“The Nebraska Pre-Admission Screening and Resident Review (PASRR) Program has met the challenge of shortening the time it takes to approve an individual’s admission to a nursing facility,” said Courtney Phillips, chief executive officer of DHHS.   “And the real winners are Nebraskans, as their wait time has been drastically reduced.”

“When a Nebraska hospital brought the concern about patients waiting for the PASRR screens, we looked at the data, partnered with our DHHS divisions and with Ascend, the contractor the State uses for these screenings, and together were able to cut the time down to less than three days,” said Sheri Dawson, director of the Division of Behavioral Health, adding that the national average is seven days. “The average time in October, the most recent data available, shows that the average turnaround time is two and a quarter days, and we continue to track metrics on a monthly basis.”   
PASRR is a federally mandated program that requires a screening process to ensure that individuals are evaluated for possible mental illness (such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia) and/or intellectual or developmental disabilities (such as Down Syndrome and autism) and related conditions prior to entering a nursing facility. This is done to ensure they are placed appropriately, in the least restrictive setting possible, and to ensure that they receive the services they need, wherever they choose to live.

“The PASRR Level I screen is required for all individuals considering nursing home placement. The PASRR Level II evaluation is required for all individuals whose Level I screen identified individuals who have or are suspected of having challenges,” said Dawson. “The Level II screen ensures that a nursing facility is the appropriate placement and what specialized services are required to support the best quality of life for that individual.”

In Nebraska, the DHHS divisions of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities and Medicaid and Long-Term Care collaborate for program oversight and consultation on services for individuals who are found to have mental illness, intellectual or developmental disabilities and related conditions through the PASRR process, said Courtney Miller, director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities. In Nebraska’s case, Ascend has been contracted to provide Level I and Level II screenings. The organization has been a state contractor since 2006.

In Nebraska, about 32,000 individuals complete the PASRR Level I screening and the majority of them are admitted or readmitted into a nursing facility; another 1,500 are required to complete the PASRR Level II evaluation. “This decreased wait time is substantial to those waiting for the care they need to live a quality life in Nebraska,” said Dawson.