Act 47 Reform Legislation to Get House and Senate Action

Two bills reforming Act 47 will be subject of House and Senate action the second week of April.

Both House Bill 1773 by Rep. Chris Ross (R-Chester) and Senate Bill 1157 by Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair) were introduced following a Local Government Commission Task Force report detailing needed changes to the current law.

The bills were identical as introduced, but Rep. Ross’s bill has been amended as it moves through the legislative process.

Rep. Ross’s bill is ready for third consideration in the House as soon as Monday. Sen. Eichelberger’s bill will be the subject of a Senate Local Government Committee hearing on Thursday.

Rep. Ross noted the impetus behind the changes made in the bills is the fact that under Act 47 municipalities are not making the recommended difficult choices needed to get out of distressed status.

“They’re fiscally unstable, they continue to have problems with deterioration, the citizens really find they’re having trouble getting access to good services, and it really hampers economic growth,” Rep. Ross said. “It causes a series of problems.”

According to both Rep. Ross and Sen. Eichelberger, the biggest change both bills make is putting a five-year time limit on how long municipalities may stay under Act 47 distressed status. The status can be extended once for three years if certain criteria are met.

“This is going to force municipalities to make very difficult decisions up front,” Sen. Eichelberger said. “They’re going to have to come up with a plan and then execute it very quickly,” he explained of the effect of the changes.

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Friday, April 4, 2014/Author: The PLS Reporter
Categories: News and Views

Hundreds to Converge on Capitol to Call on Corbett to Accept Medicaid Expansion

Hundreds of advocates from “Cover the Commonwealth” plan on packing the East Wing Rotunda Monday to call on Gov. Tom Corbett to accept Medicaid expansion wholesale instead of his Healthy PA proposal.
 
“Folks are coming because there is really a frustration about that state that we haven’t expanded Medicaid yet,” said Antoinette Kraus of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN). PHAN is expected to participate in the rally.
 
“We are 60 days past the January 1 implementation date where we could be drawing down federal funds and covering almost a half a million Pennsylvanians,” Kraus added.
 
She stated advocates also have issues with the governor’s Healthy PA proposal, contending it cuts Medicaid benefits. “We’re worried about the new limits that will be put on Medicaid beneficiaries,” she said.

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Friday, April 4, 2014/Author: The PLS Reporter
Categories: News and Views

DEMOCRATS CALL FOR TOTAL GIFT BAN

Led by Democratic Gubernatorial hopeful Katie McGinty, a group of Democrats held a news conference Wednesday to call for a total ban on gifts to legislators.

“I’m here to call for an absolute, total, no asterisk, no footnote, gift ban,” McGinty stated.

She argued the current lack of government trust among the public requires current loopholes to be closed.

“What we are proposing here is not a radical new thought,” McGinty claimed. “Pennsylvania should join the 40 other states that essentially have an absolute gift ban.”

She noted any plan should leave no question as to what’s right or what’s wrong and give the public confidence again that state government is working for them.

She said any plan should include exemptions for gifts by friends and family and be aimed toward prohibiting gifts from those who have business before the state.

“People still have their personal lives. I’m not speaking here about their personal lives,” she said.

CLICK HERE to read the full story and when action can be expected from the House and Senate.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014/Author: The PLS Reporter
Categories: News and Views
BILL REGULATING HEALTH EXCHANGE NAVIGATORS SUBJECT OF HEARING

BILL REGULATING HEALTH EXCHANGE NAVIGATORS SUBJECT OF HEARING

A bill regulating health care navigators and certified application counselors under the federal Affordable Care Act was vetted during a Wednesday hearing in the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee.

Senate Bill 1268, introduced by Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair), would require navigators and certified application counselors to undergo certification by the Insurance Department and submit to criminal background checks and fingerprinting.

“Federal law does not require navigators or certified application counselors to obtain a certified criminal background check even though they have access to enrollees pertinent personal information,” explained committee Chairman Don White (R-Indiana).

“This bill is drafted as a consumer protection measure,” explained Sen. Eichelberger. “When people are working to provide insurance coverage for the citizens of Pennsylvania, I believe the Pennsylvania Insurance Department should have some role in tracking them and having some oversight.”

Not everyone is so convinced such a sweeping measure is needed, however, including the Insurance Department.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014/Author: The PLS Reporter
Categories: News and Views

PHARMACISTS RALLY AT CAPITOL

The Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association held a rally in the Main Capitol Rotunda today to highlight a number of issues they support and on which they would like to see further legislative action.

The association noted support for a prescription drug monitoring program, related good Samaritan laws, and the current drug take-back program. They also called for more regulation of pharmacy benefit managers, for fair pharmacy audit procedures, and expanded immunization opportunities.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014/Author: The PLS Reporter
Categories: Event Central
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