In this Update:
What to Expect from New Breast Cancer Testing and Counseling Law
For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I, one of the prime sponsors of a historic, new breast cancer testing and counseling law, urge constituents to look into how it could benefit them. Act 1 of 2023, enacted in May, will eliminate all costs associated with breast MRIs, breast ultrasounds and BRCA-related genetic testing and counseling for insured Pennsylvanians at high risk. Co-pays, deductibles and co-insurance costs will all be eliminated.
There isn’t a person in our commonwealth who hasn’t, in some way, been touched by breast cancer and, like so many others, my family knows the devastating toll this disease can have. Please, check to see if you are at high risk and take advantage of this new law when it takes effect.
For large group plans, the law could take effect as soon as Jan. 1, 2024, or July 1, 2024. Residents should contact their human resources or benefits administrator to learn when the new plan year begins.
The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2025, for individual insurance plans and small group plans purchased by an employer with 50 or fewer employees.
Some of the high-risk factors covered by the new law include individuals with a personal or family history of breast cancer, abnormal breast screenings, extremely dense breast tissue, and a personal history of BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.
If you have questions about your insurance coverage, contact your insurer or employer directly. And please remember: early detection saves lives.
Veterans’ Records of Discharge
During our recent Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness committee, I expressed my support for House Bill 269. We need to make sure the process of retrieving DD-214s is secure, and those that have honorably served are not victims of larceny and identity theft.
Guest Chaplain: Kris Wint
Thank you to Pastor Kris Wint of Finland Mennonite Church for serving as our Guest Chaplain of the Senate of Pennsylvania. Joined with Pastor Wint were seven 10th grade students that are studying in the Challenge II Program of Classical Conversations. These students are Noah Kline, Ambry Williams, Julia Daniels, Kaden Shorb, Zack Zuch, Isaiah Smith, and his daughter Chloe Wint.
Learn to Protect Yourself from Fraud & Identity Theft
Join me and Upper Gwynedd Police Department, PA Banking and Securities, Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office and Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General for our Scam Jam event on October 30, 2023 at 10 AM. Hear from experts on how to spot, stop and report consumer scams and identify theft. The event is free and open to the public. Register here.
Veterans Appreciation Breakfast
My Veterans Appreciation Breakfast will be held next week, Saturday, November 4 at the Upper Perkiomen High School. Our commonwealth is home to one of the largest veteran populations in the nation, and because of this, we have an obligation to honor their service and contributions. So let us serve you. Veterans are invited to enjoy a morning of fellowship, appreciation, and information gathering from community resources. Interested in attending? RSVP here.
Veterans’ Trust Fund Grant Opportunity
DMVA is pleased to announce the FY23 Veterans’ Trust Fund Grant Opportunity. Please find attached the Grant Package which can also be found at Veterans Trust Fund (pa.gov). Applications are due by 2 PM on Wednesday, November 8th by email to RA-MVVETTRUSTFUND@pa.gov.
2024 Finnegan Foundation Internships
Applications are currently being accepted for the 2024 James A. Finnegan Fellowship Foundation. This fellowship gives undergraduate college students interested in politics and government the opportunity to be placed in a paid internship at one of the state’s executive agencies located in Harrisburg.
Students who want to apply for this fellowship need to submit an essay between 1,500 and 2,500 words about their opinions of the Pennsylvania Award for Student Success (PASS) Program, which would offer students in struggling schools grants to explore other educational opportunities.
Students have until January 26, 2024, to submit their essays and other materials to the foundation.
Senate Backs Israel, Condemns Hamas
Following the murderous attacks of innocent people by the terrorist group Hamas, the Senate approved a resolution condemning Hamas’ Oct. 7 carnage.
Senate Resolution 185 shows Pennsylvania’s support of the Jewish people as they defend against this terrorist threat. It says that we stand “firmly with the people of Israel and their right to defend themselves.” It labels the attacks by Hamas as “shocking, barbaric and evil,” further adding they “amount to war crimes of the worst kind.”
The resolution further stipulates, “Israel has every right to defend itself with all due force” and noted Pennsylvania’s “special relationship” with Israel since the country declared independence in 1948.
Senate Advances Critical Support for EMS, Hospitals and Nursing Homes
This week, the Senate approved legislation advancing critical public health components of the budget process.
Passage of House Bill 1351 addresses the crucial public health needs for emergency medical services, hospitals and nursing homes and ensures Pennsylvanians continue to receive access to needed health care services.
Senate Votes to Increase Access to Addiction Treatment Programs
To combat prevalent opioid addiction, the Senate unanimously passed legislation increasing access to licensed addiction treatment programs for Pennsylvanians.
Senate Bill 941 would provide regulatory flexibilities that can be used during an opioid epidemic to create real solutions to workforce shortages and directly help those in need of treatment get access quicker.
Additionally, Senate Bill 941 would establish annual reporting requirements to the General Assembly regarding unnecessary barriers to workforce recruitment and access to treatment.
Bill Enhancing School Bus Safety Receives Senate Support
The Senate passed a bill to improve school bus safety by increasing penalties for those refusing to follow the law.
Senate Bill 897 would give judges the discretion to increase fines above the current $250 for refusing to stop for a school bus when red lights are flashing or a stop arm is extended. It would also require repeat offenders to complete a PennDOT Driving Improvement School. Additionally, it would establish a new penalty for individuals who fail to proceed with caution past a school bus with flashing amber lights.
According to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, approximately 1,000 drivers annually are convicted of passing a stopped school bus with signals flashing. Many more citations are issued without resulting in a conviction.
Grants Available to Ready PA for New Businesses
To attract and retain more businesses in the commonwealth, PA SITES (Pennsylvania Strategic Investments to Enhance Sites) will make $10 million in grant funding available to help locations become “shovel ready.”
Eligible projects must be in Pennsylvania and support the development of competitive sites. These include undeveloped sites and sites that were previously utilized or underutilized – such as former industrial, commercial, military, school, or hospital sites or buildings.
Municipalities, economic development organizations, redevelopment authorities, municipal authorities and industrial development agencies may apply for the funding here through Wednesday, Nov. 8.
Recognizing National Cybersecurity Awareness Month
In October, we focus on staying safe online by taking steps to protect personal data. Simple steps you can take include using strong passwords, using multifactor authentication, recognizing and reporting phishing, and updating software.
My colleagues and I are also working to put measures in place that will better shield you from online threats. Senate Bill 565 would protect students’ personal data from unauthorized or inappropriate disclosure.
Other legislative measures would safeguard the state’s online assets. Senate Bill 563 would establish that commonwealth agencies have strong capabilities in place to discourage, combat and recover from ransomware attacks. Senate Bill 284 would establish a standalone Office of Information Technology (OIT) under the Office of Administration. The OIT would create a strategic plan for future IT projects across state government, as well as manage and maintain all future IT procurement within state agencies.
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