In This Update:
Senator Mensch Legislation to Ensure Safe Visitation and Care of Nursing Home Residents Earns Senate Approval
This week, the Senate approved my legislation to ensure safe visitation and enhanced care for residents of long-term care facilities.
Senate Bill 1279 would require long-term care facilities to designate at least one essential family caregiver per resident that would be permitted to visit and care for a loved one during a disaster emergency. Under the bill, caregivers would be able to remain in contact with family members and provide companionship and assist with activities requiring one-on-one direction.
Simply, we are trying to give facilities and families a clear picture of when and how they can visit or care for their loved ones. Families have been waiting for eight months to see their loved one.
The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This week, my staff wore purple to honor those affected by domestic violence, and to raise awareness for this significant issue. You can visit the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence website for ways to raise awareness and for more information.
Local Community Members Recognized for Efforts to Supply Community with PPE
This week, I recognized several local community members on the Senate floor for their efforts in providing hundreds of masks and gloves for frontline workers in their community. Watch my floor remarks here.
Master Bong Pil Yang, General Secretary of the 21st Century America-Korea-China Leaders Society enlisted the help of his friends Osang Park, President of NYBEE, Inc.; Jay Sung, President of BOB International, Inc.; and Sung Woong Kim, President of the Korean American Vietnam Veterans Association of Pennsylvania to come together to help procure and provide this PPE to those who needed it most.
Pennsburg Borough First Responders Parade
On Saturday, I attended the Pennsburg Borough First Responder Parade. This parade was organized and hosted by the Borough to show the community’s appreciation for their local First Responders. I presented certificates to the Upper Perk Ambulance, Pennsburg Fire Police, Pennsburg Fire Company, and Upper Perk Police Department to recognize their hard work and efforts that they put in every day to help keep our communities and citizens safe.
“We Are You” Book Launch Dedicated to All First Responders
On Saturday, Lansdale held a “We Are You” Book Launch, which was dedicated to all first responders. The event also included a salute to Dr. Frank E. Boston.
Community members kicked-off off the event to recognize the book launch and to rediscover the life of Dr. Frank E. Boston, founder of Lansdale Hospital and VMSC Ambulance corps, by reading the “We Are You” book dedication at the Dr. Boston monument located at the corner of the First Baptist Church – Lansdale and acknowledging all first responders.
Dementia Friends Education Event
I will be hosting an informational session to help individuals learn about what life can be like for people living with dementia and how to help them integrate with the community. This virtual event will be held on October 29 from 10:30am to 11:30am. See the flyer for more information. To register, visit: https://www.senatormensch.com/dementia-friends-session/
Veterans’ Discount ID Event
The Montgomery County Record of Deeds is hosting a ‘Veterans’ Discount ID’ event at their office in Norristown on November 9 from 10:00am to 1:00pm. You must call in advance to schedule an appointment at 610-278-3289.
Senate Votes to Boost Fire and EMS Services Throughout PA
Our communities are fortunate to have many brave men and women who dedicate their time and efforts as first responders to protect our lives and property. The Senate approved a comprehensive package of bipartisan reforms this week to support our first responders and improve the delivery of fire and EMS services throughout the state.
The bill contains key improvements to grant and loan programs for fire companies, new measures to support recruitment and retention of fire personnel and critical changes in the Office of the State Fire Commissioner.
Legislation was also approved this week to increase funding to the Emergency Medical Services Operating Fund by approximately $11 million.
The reforms were based on recommendations included in the 2018 Senate Resolution 6 Report that was created to explore ways to better support fire and EMS services in Pennsylvania.
Legislation Moves Forward to Ensure Safe Visitation of Nursing Home Residents
Many Pennsylvania families faced COVID-19 restrictions that prevented them from visiting loved ones for months – even when all state and federal safety protocols could have been followed. The Senate approved legislation this week to ensure safe visitation and enhanced care for residents of long-term care facilities.
The bill would require facilities to designate at least one essential family caregiver per resident that would be permitted to visit and care for a loved one during a disaster emergency. Under the bill, caregivers would be able to remain in contact with family members and provide companionship and assist with activities requiring one-on-one direction.
Bills to Improve COVID-19 Reporting Move to Governor’s Desk
Two bills to improve reporting of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Pennsylvania are on their way to the governor to be signed into law. The bills are focused on protecting first responders and ensuring all COVID-19 deaths are reported and investigated properly.
Under the legislation, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and local health agencies would be required to notify 911 centers of the address of any known positive case of a communicable, aerosolized and transmissible disease. The legislation would ensure the information is provided to law enforcement officers, fire department personnel, emergency medical services personnel, medical examiners and coroners when they are called to carry out an essential job function at the address.
In addition, the package includes a measure to ensure county coroners are notified of all suspected deaths in their jurisdiction caused by this virus and other contagious diseases that constitute a health emergency. The bill would ensure coroners can investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding any death and eliminate inconsistencies in how COVID-19 deaths are being reported.
Senate Advances Measures to Boost Availability of Broadband
The Senate approved two bills this week to boost the state’s efforts to expand high-speed broadband internet coverage to more unserved and underserved areas in rural Pennsylvania. The bills are designed to reduce regulatory burdens on telecommunications companies and make better use of existing infrastructure to expand coverage to a broader number of communities.
One of the bills would reduce regulatory barriers to broadband deployment by modernizing the Public Utility Code and requiring the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to review and waive regulations that are no longer necessary or in the public interest.
Another bill would make broader use of existing infrastructure to further deploy broadband in areas that lack coverage. The legislation would allow electric cooperatives to utilize existing utility poles to place fiber-optic lines if the placement does not adversely affect the value or use of the property.
Legislation Offers Relief for Rural Pharmacies
In recent years, many rural pharmacies endured severe cuts to reimbursement rates from pharmacy benefit managers. Several rural pharmacists testified during a Senate Majority Policy Committee workshop discussion that the reimbursement rates they received were lower than the cost of the drug in some cases, forcing the pharmacy to operate in the red.
The Senate approved legislation this week that would support struggling rural pharmacies by improving pricing transparency for prescription drugs and ensuring these small businesses are reimbursed for the full cost of prescriptions for Medicaid patients.
The bill builds on recent progress to protect prescription drug consumers. Earlier this year, lawmakers approved the Consumer Prescription Drug Pricing and Freedom Disclosure Act to allow a pharmacy or pharmacist to provide information about the cost of a prescription drug to consumers, including the individual’s share of costs.
Bill Could Help More Pennsylvanians Benefit from Clean Slate
The Senate approved a key criminal justice reform bill this week that would allow more Pennsylvanians to have criminal records expunged if they receive a pardon or are not convicted of a crime. The measure would provide for the automatic expungement of criminal records if all court-ordered restitution is paid.
Under current law, an individual who receives a pardon or is not convicted of a crime still must pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars in legal fees to file for expungement. This bill would remove a serious barrier to employment, housing, education and other critical services for individuals who are otherwise unable to complete the process of criminal record expungement.
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