In this update:
Legislature sends governor significant health care reform proposal
On the final day of its two-year session this past Wednesday, the General Assembly sent a measure I authored to the governor for his signature that would make significant reforms to prior authorization and step therapy for medical treatment.
My legislation would create standards and timely feedback for commercial health insurance plans, as well as Medicaid plans, when health care providers seek prior authorization approval from insurers. The bill also reforms step therapy protocols.
Prior authorization is the process in which health care providers obtain advance approval for purposes of payment coverage and reimbursement from an insurer before a specific procedure or service is delivered to the patient. The process was initially created to control health care costs for experimental and new procedures. The legislature, through Senate Bill 225, standardized the process and shortened timeframes to provide for much more rapid approval between health care providers and insurers.
Step therapy is another form of prior authorization; however, it applies to prescription drug treatment plans. Insurers may recommend different drug treatment option(s) to patients in an effort to address costs. Health care providers argue this ultimately delays treatment plans and oftentimes leads to patients walking away from treatment all together.
A recent survey of physicians by the American Medical Association found 78% of doctors said that prior authorization delays can lead to their patients to abandoning their treatment.
Senate Bill 225 would require insurers to provide timely approval for both non-urgent and emergency health care services to physicians before services and treatment plans are rendered. The bill also creates streamlined guidelines for step therapy for prescription drugs, as well as new options for patients and their medical professionals to obtain exemption to best treat the medical condition of the patient.
The same survey by the American Medical Association also found that 91% of doctors say prior authorization delays can lead to negative clinical impacts on patients.
Thank you to Dr. Suzette Song, a local orthopedic surgeon, who brought the issue to my attention by telling me countless stories of frustration of her patients who were sidelined because of prior authorization delays.
You can learn more here.
Senate moves legislation that requires timely notification of government data breaches
Legislation requiring that state agencies, their contractors and local governments provide timely notification to victims of a data breach received final approval.
This bill gained traction after the committee I chair held a public hearing in light of the Dept. of Health failing to notify more than 70,000 victims of a data breach within a third-party vendor tasked with contact tracing for COVID-19. Victims included adults AND children and information that was publicly accessible included COVID-19 status, gender and sexual orientation. We attempted to hear from the department and its vendor, but no one was willing to testify. We ultimately approved an amendment that requires timely notification of data breaches within state and local governments, as well as third-party vendors who contract with the state.
Breaches involving personally identifiable information must be reported within seven days of such a breach being determined.
In addition to timely notification, the measure requires the state Attorney General to be notified of a state-level breach and county district attorneys to be notified of county, municipal and school district breaches. The bill was sent to the governor for enactment.
Standing up for police and crime victims
Taking further action to stem the rise in violent crime in Pennsylvania, the Senate this week passed measures to support law enforcement and crime victims.
House Bill 103 seeks to better protect our law enforcement officers against harassment by strengthening penalties against criminals who intentionally spit on or throw bodily fluids at officers.
House Bill 1546 further protects law enforcement officers by prohibiting the release of a public safety official’s home address or telephone number.
While criminal prosecutions punish offenders, restitution for crime victims often falls short. When that happens, victims often turn to the civil justice system.
The Senate passed House Bill 2525 to make it easier for crime victims to obtain relevant information learned by law enforcement during the investigation of the crime. Crime victims can then use that information in civil legal actions to recover damages for their injuries.
In addition, the Senate approved House Bill 140 to help fight rampant crime in Philadelphia. It requires the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute crimes committed within its mass transit system.
These efforts build on the work that has been accomplished over the past two years to protect crime victims, prevent human trafficking and strengthen penalties for criminals who seek to elude officers.
Discussing the future of manufacturing on latest podcast
The latest episode of “Kristin’s Corner” – a podcast by me that looks at state and local issues – I sat down with Bruce Newell, who is the President & CEO of MANTEC, this week.
Our conversations covered the past, present, and future of York County’s robust manufacturing industry.
Manufacturing in York County makes up 18% of all jobs in the county, which is double the national average, and accounts for 23-24% of wages in the county.
We highlight legislative accomplishments that will help grow this important industry to our local economy, as well as ways we are working to encourage more Pennsylvanians to consider a career in manufacturing.
York County’s Nicole Zeigler recognized statewide for her role in supporting others
Congratulations to Nicole Zeigler, who was named the Emerging Direct Service Professional of the Year by the Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disability.
Nicole has transformed lives by supporting people to achieve their personal outcomes while actively engaging in their communities.
We are grateful for Nicole’s tireless work, and I was honored to present her with a congratulatory citation on behalf of the Senate of Pennsylvania.
Legislation would add sex traffickers to sex offender registry
A measure requiring offenders convicted of a sex trafficking-related crime to register as sex offenders received final legislative approval this week.
Senate Bill 118 adds these crimes to the reporting requirements of Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law. The law requires the State Police to maintain a public, online registry of persons who reside, work or attend school in the Commonwealth and who have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to certain sexual offenses in Pennsylvania or another jurisdiction.
Most defendants in the FBI’s human trafficking cases had prior criminal records and are prone to recidivism. The Megan’s Law Registry has proven to be a deterrent to subsequent sexual offenses committed by those who are on it. The bill was sent to the governor for enactment.
Celebrating the life of Aladdin, an animal ambassador
As the Senate co-chair of the Animal Protection Caucus, I joined my fellow chairs and animal advocates to celebrate the life of Aladdin, an animal ambassador who touched many.
I was also delighted to see my good buddy, Libre, at the event. You can check out Aladdin’s life and how this rescue pup was able to help so many throughout his challenging life in this news article.
Protecting our locally owned small businesses
I am honored to be one of only 10 lawmakers in the state to receive a “Guardian of Small Business” statue award for my votes to protect and stand up for our small businesses. The National Federation of Independent Business state director for Pennsylvania, Greg Moreland, said, “She has once again gone above and beyond her advocacy for Main Street, Pennsylvania, tackling the tough issues that plague our small business communities.”
You can learn more here.
Congratulations to Envision Biomedical and SR Solutions for earning funding through Ben Franklin Technology Partners
I was honored to join the leadership of Envision Biomedical and SR Solutions, two tech startups based in the 28th Senatorial District, that were awarded funding from Ben Franklin Technology Partners.
Envision Biomedical will use the funds to test for its new contact lens polymers.
SR Solutions will use the funds to complete software development for their software suite for restoration contractors and subcontractors. Congratulations to these local businesses and best wishes in the future!
National First Responders Recognition Day is today (Oct. 28)
We should never take for granted the sacrifice and dedication of our brave first responders.
Thank you to every man and woman serving as a police officer, firefighter, emergency medical personnel, and everyone else who answers the call, anytime, day or night.
We are grateful for your service to our communities. You make York County a better place to live, work and raise a family.
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