Rural Health Care Partnership Focus of House Hearing
10/19/2018
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Rural Health Care Partnership Focus of House Hearing

This week, the House Insurance Committee, of which I am a member, held an informational meeting to learn more about legislation to help ensure the viability of rural hospitals across the state. House Bill 2532 would establish the Rural Health Redesign Center, a public-private partnership, which would administer the PA Rural Health Program. This would help strengthen rural hospitals, keep jobs local and increase access to health care.

Currently, rural hospitals are paid in an unpredictable, fee-for-service manner that leaves many facilities suffering financially. Through the program, rural hospitals would transition to a payment model that would provide a stable and steady stream of revenue, allowing these vital health care facilities to better plan the types of health services their communities need. About 67 hospitals in Pennsylvania are considered rural, and 32 of them are at risk of closure with operating margins below 0 percent.

This public-private partnership is an opportunity for these hospitals to get on some stable financial ground. These hospitals – which provide critical access to care for thousands of rural residents -- and their employees are the economic engines of most communities, and it’s imperative to keep them operational. 
 
 
Honoring Local Fire Company Volunteers 

 

Last weekend, I had the chance to honor men and women with our local fire companies who passed away at the 29th annual Sunbury Fire Department Memorial Service. Every year, our local fire companies come together to acknowledge the service and dedication of the volunteers within their ranks who have passed away. Thank you to everyone who attended this year’s event and to all those within our local fire companies who not only coordinated this service but for their continued efforts to protect our communities. 
 
 
Giving the Gift of Life

Legislation that would help encourage organ and tissue donation in Pennsylvania is now on the governor’s desk.

Senate Bill 180, which unanimously passed the House last week, would expand the list of those persons authorized to decide on behalf of a decedent whether his or her organs are donated.

Among other provisions, it would also permit a minimally invasive blood or tissue test to be conducted to determine the suitability of a donor; call for education regarding organ and tissue donation and transplantation for high school students, as well as nursing and medical students; and increase the voluntary contribution made by citizens from $1 to $3 for driver’s license and vehicle registration renewals.

Currently, more than 800 Pennsylvanians are waiting for an organ transplant. More information about organ donation in Pennsylvania is available here
 
 
Prescription Drug Coverage Expansion to Cover 17,000 More Seniors

Legislation to expand eligibility for the state’s PACENET prescription drug coverage program passed the House last week and is moving to the governor’s desk. Up to 17,000 Pennsylvania seniors are expected to benefit from this expansion.

House Bill 270 would increase the annual maximum income limits in the PACENET program to $27,500 for a single person and to $35,500 for a married couple. Current maximum income requirements for the PACENET program, which covers those individuals with incomes exceeding PACE maximums, are $23,500 for a single individual and $31,500 for a married couple annually.

Additionally, the bill would allow two new pharmacy-based programs to be developed under the PACE program to assist seniors in monitoring their prescription drug usage.

This eligibility expansion would be the first since 2004, and it is funded by proceeds from the Pennsylvania Lottery. 
 
 
Designation to Raise Awareness of Domestic Violence

To raise awareness of domestic violence and encourage victims to seek help, House Resolution 1046 passed the House to designate October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Pennsylvania.

Domestic violence – a pattern of abusive behavior used to establish power and control over an intimate partner – affects men and women in all racial, ethnic, religious, educational, social and economic backgrounds. It takes many forms, whereby victims are often subjected to abuse, harassment, threats, vandalism, trespassing, burglary, theft and stalking.

A new law – Act 79 of 2018 – passed the House and Senate this fall to better protect victims of domestic violence by strengthening the requirements for firearm relinquishment in cases of final Protection from Abuse (PFA) orders or convictions of crimes of domestic violence.

Last year, 117 people were killed in Pennsylvania by someone who was supposed to love them. More information about domestic violence is available here.
  
 
PennDOT Improves Customer Care Website

To make it easier to report concerns on state roads, PennDOT has modernized its online customer care center. The new website will include new mapping capabilities, optional photo uploads and a mobile-friendly interface.

Concerns are sorted into several categories: road or bridge conditions; removing debris from a roadway; traffic, signs or signals; ongoing roadwork or projects; or general questions and concerns.

Motorists are asked to be as specific as possible when providing locations of concerns. Motorists should report the county, municipality, street name and state route number, which can be found on small black and white signs posted along state highways. In addition, a description of any familiar landmarks are helpful for PennDOT to locate the problem area.

As of Sept. 30, the previous Customer Care Center had nearly 45,000 concerns submitted this year, according to PennDOT, with more than 96 percent of those concerns being resolved. 
 
 
Poster Contest Encourages Youth to Know When, Know How

As part of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s 27th annual Alcohol Awareness Poster Contest, this year’s theme is based on the agency’s new alcohol education campaign “Know When, Know How.” This campaign teaches parents how to start a conversation with their children about the dangers of underage drinking.

The contest is open to all Pennsylvania students in kindergarten through 12th grade, including those who are homeschooled or in private or parochial schools. Students may enter through their schools, clubs, Scout troops or individually.

Entries must feature a clear no-use message about underage drinking and may be created using any artistic medium. Students are encouraged to use positive messages and images, such as the benefits of being alcohol free or alternatives to underage drinking.

Several students with winning entries will receive $50, and one student from each grade (K-12) will receive $25. Some of the winning designs may be reproduced in various formats and distributed across Pennsylvania.

Entries must be postmarked no later than Friday, Nov. 16. For additional information about submission dates, guidelines and prizes, review the contest guidelines and entry form available at lcb.pa.gov under “Education,” then “Poster Contest.” 
 
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