|Budget Directs Funding to Lyme Disease
This year’s 2018-19 state budget addresses many of the state’s critical health needs by directing resources to several important line items, including Lyme disease.
With Pennsylvania leading the nation in the number of Lyme disease cases, $2.5 million in state funding will help combat and treat those affected by the disease.
Efforts will include building a more robust Lyme disease prevention and education program, conducting more well-rounded surveillance through activities like a statewide environmental survey, and improving participation in tick-borne disease surveillance with providers and local health departments. The funding specifically addresses many of the recommendations outlined by the Lyme Disease Task Force, which was created by Act 83 of 2014.
Other health-related funding priorities include increases to support the state’s West Nile Virus and Zika Virus control program; take care of those with intellectual disabilities; and offer evidence-based home visiting services to families affected by the opioid epidemic. Bio-technology research, ALS support services and regional cancer centers also will receive increases in this budget.
Hospitals Must Alert Child Welfare about Drug-Exposed Newborns
To help ensure that babies who are born dependent on controlled substances are safely cared for and receive critical medical and developmental services, a new law closes a loophole in the reporting of such cases to proper authorities.
The legislation is designed to ensure that mothers and their babies get help rather than punish the mothers for drug use.
Act 54 of 2018 requires that child protective services develop a plan of care for the infant and puts the state in compliance with a 2003 federal law. It also clarifies how authorities should respond while focusing on providing help to the babies’ families rather than automatically treating the mothers’ drug use as a criminal act.
According to state data, more than 920 babies were born with neonatal abstinence syndrome in Pennsylvania in the first six months of 2018.
Congratulations Valley View Rehab and Nursing Center
My House colleague, Rep. Garth Everett, joined me in presenting a House citation to the Valley View Rehab and Nursing home in Montoursville honoring 25 years of serving the region. Joining us are Steve Fry, CFO; Joe Moyer, president; and Michele Brague, administrator.
Improving Birth Certificate Processing in Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth is currently facing a significant statewide delay in processing birth certificates, with current processing times for mail order requests taking up to 29 weeks, and online orders, depending on birth year, taking between three and 18 weeks.
In an effort to fix the current system, House Bill 84 was introduced to permit local registrars, who already issue copies of death certificates, to issue copies of birth certificates in an effort to make the process more efficient for constituents so that they can get their birth certificate copy locally within the same day.
There will be a substantial increase in birth certificate requests as the implementation of Real ID continues, and the current process of issuing birth certificates is unsustainable.
The legislation passed House 191-1 and is currently in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
Improving Delivery of Human Services
To help ensure a more efficient delivery of human services programs, the Human Services Code portion of the 2018-19 state budget package contained a number of reforms and updates that seek to save taxpayers money while still taking care of our most vulnerable citizens.
Act 40 of 2018 makes several changes to the state’s Medicaid program to ensure maximum efficiency, including new ways for counties to provide nonemergency medical transportation services to eligible and enrolled Medical Assistance recipients.
Another change establishes two Medicaid outcome-based programs to increase efficiency in hospital services and managed care programs.
Finally, the new law aims to reduce long-term care expenses by providing information about the Living Independence for the Elderly (LIFE) program to individuals seeking long-term care services and supports. Studies show that seniors recover faster and have a better quality of life in their own residences.
Empowering Parents in Substance Abuse Cases
Legislation that will give parents the final word on treatment in substance abuse cases involving their children has been signed into law.
Act 47 of 2018 allows a parent or legal guardian to provide consent over the objection of a minor with respect to furnishing medical care or counseling related to diagnosis or treatment of substance abuse.
It also seeks to protect the patient’s rights in that anyone providing medical care may only share with the parents information that would reduce the threat of harm to the minor.
The new law takes effect in late August.
Lycoming County Fair is Underway!
The annual Lycoming County Fair is underway in Hughesville from now until Saturday, July 21.
Located in the borough, the fair originated in 1870 and continues its traditions of promoting agriculture in Lycoming County.
Have some summer fun and enjoy the attractions and special days including Military Appreciation Day on Monday, July 16, Youth Day on Tuesday, July 17, and Senior Citizens Day Wednesday, July 18.
For more information on the fair, click here.
Road Maintenance Info Available Online
To make your travels easier, the weekly road maintenance schedule is available at the PennDOT Regional Office website here. For statewide information, visit 511pa.com.