In this update:
Senate approves prior authorization, step therapy reform
The Senate unanimously approved my legislation that will streamline the prior authorization and step therapy processes for medical treatment.
Senate Bill 225 would set standards for commercial insurance plans as well as Medicaid plans when seeking prior authorization approval, as well as step therapy protocols. The legislation would also provide a timely process for appeals determinations.
Prior authorization refers to any process by which physicians and other health care providers must obtain advance approval from a health plan before a specific procedure or service is delivered to the patient to qualify for payment coverage. The process was initially created to control costs for experimental or new procedures. Step therapy requires patients to try one or more prescription drug treatment option(s) chosen by the patient’s insurance provider.
This measure will strengthen relationships between doctors and patients, as well as cut red tape that will ultimately lead to better health care outcomes. This is not a Republican or Democrat issue – this is about finding efficiencies and negotiating between health care providers and insurers to come up with reforms that will ultimately benefit patients across the Commonwealth.
You can watch what my colleagues had to say below.
You can learn more here.
Congratulations to Eagle Scout Carter Costella of Troop 127
Congratulations to Carter Costella of Troop 127 in Abbottstown on achieving the rank of Eagle Scout! It was an honor to present him with a citation from the Senate of Pennsylvania in recognition of his significant achievement.
Carter, the son of Victoria and Preston Costella, designed and constructed a flagpole to fly the American Flag surrounded by pavers at Farmers Field in Paradise Township.
Well done, Carter!
Wolf administration plan to toll interstate bridges halted by court
In a major win for motorists and communities near interstate highways, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania issued a ruling blocking the Wolf Administration from moving forward with its plan to toll nine interstate bridges across the state, including the Interstate 83 South Bridge in Harrisburg.
I received overwhelming feedback in opposition to this plan from our neighbors during a survey I conducted last year.
The decision follows a previous ruling temporarily halting the initiative, siding with a county and several municipalities that challenged the constitutionality of the plan to toll interstate bridges under the public-private partnership (P3) bridge program.
PennDOT attempted to move forward with tolling without approval from the General Assembly. The Senate passed Senate Bill 382 to require the P3 process to be more transparent while stopping the current initiative. Gov. Wolf vowed to veto the measure.
Bills to limit exposure of sexually explicit content in PA schools passed by Senate
Two bills that would give parents a voice in Pennsylvania schools were approved by the Senate.
Senate Bill 1277 would require districts to identify sexually explicit content in school curriculum and materials and notify parents that their child’s coursework includes such content. Senate Bill 1278 would prohibit classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation for pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students, consistent with the timeline for when the existing academic standards on general sex education begins in sixth grade.
The proposals are in response to concerns of parents that age-inappropriate conversations about these sensitive topics are occurring prematurely and without parental knowledge in school classrooms around the state.
Clarification about what Senate Bill 1278 does and does not do is available here.
You can review blurred examples of situations that parents have reported from classrooms around the state here.
Senate votes to protect sports for women and girls
The Senate gave final approval of legislation that mirrors a bill I sponsored with Sen. Judy Ward to protect the integrity of women’s sports. The measure was sent to the governor to be signed into law.
House Bill 972, the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, ensures that biological males can’t compete on school athletic teams designated for women and girls. The bill also provides legal recourse for students harmed when schools and colleges violate the proposed law.
June 23 marked the 50th anniversary of enactment of Title IX, which guaranteed girls and women equal access to scholastic sports. Recently, more than a dozen states have passed legislation similar to House Bill 972 after women’s sports organizations were pressured to allow biological males to compete on their teams.
Senate acts to improve drug overdose tracking and response
The Senate approved legislation to improve drug overdose tracking and response in Pennsylvania, which ranks third in the nation for overdose deaths. The bill will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Bill 1152 would require law enforcement and emergency medical services agencies to report all overdose incidents within 72 hours to the statewide Overdose Information Network or any other platform approved by the Pennsylvania State Police to capture real-time overdose reporting.
The State Police will be required to document the numbers, trends and patterns associated with known and suspected overdoses and issue an annual report available in an online format for reference by public officials and the general public.
Access to real-time data will help public officials ensure that adequate overdose reversal drug supplies are available, substance use outreach efforts are enhanced and law enforcement investigations are undertaken to interrupt sources of deadly substances.
Legislation boosting safety of child care facilities set for enactment
Legislation to improve safety in state-regulated child care facilities was approved by the Senate and is set to be signed into law.
Senate Bill 563 was introduced in response to a tragic fire that claimed the lives of five young children in Erie in 2019. Only one smoke detector was found in the care home, and it was in the attic.
The measure designates the locations where smoke alarms must be installed in child care facilities and require the alarms be interconnected so that if one is triggered, they all go off.
Update on fireworks legislation
The Senate amended and approved legislation that would address many challenges our neighbors face regarding consumer fireworks.
Consumer fireworks were legalized in 2017 (I voted against the measure) and include Roman candles, bottle rockets and other aerial fireworks. I sat down with Rep. Frank Farry this week, who sponsored the bill.
The bill heads back to the House of Representatives for concurrence.
Local job postings
As a reminder, the YCEA will also hold a job fair on Thursday, July 14, from noon to 4 p.m. You can get more information here.