HARRISBURG — The Senate approved several bills this week to promote the access and affordability of healthcare services and address other critical issues in the healthcare community, according to Sen. Joe Scarnati, R-Brockway who supported the measures.
Senate Bill 857, which passed the Senate on Wednesday, would improve the availability of healthcare services by promoting telemedicine services in Pennsylvania. Telemedicine would allow care providers to deliver services digitally through the use of apps, Skype, FaceTime and other advanced technologies.
“Rural Pennsylvania faces our own unique set of challenges — one of them being access to medical facilities within close proximity of our homes,” Scarnati stated. “I am proud to support this important legislation, which would help expand care and reduce costs, especially for seniors, individuals with disabilities, and members of rural or underserved communities.”
Senate Bill 841, legislation which would reauthorize the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4), also earned Senate approval on Wednesday. The agency is responsible for collecting and analyzing data about the cost and quality of health care in the state, as well as studying issues that affect access to care.
The Senate also approved legislation on Wednesday to safeguard the health of Pennsylvania’s student athletes. Senate Bill 836, known as Peyton’s Law, would inform student athletes and their parents about the importance of electrocardiogram (EKG) testing to detect underlying heart conditions that can lead to Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA).
The legislation is named in honor of Peyton Walker of Cumberland County, who died from SCA when she was just 19 years old.
In addition, legislation to protect health care practitioners and technicians was approved by the Senate on Monday. Senate Bill 351 would increase the penalty for an assault on a health care practitioner or technician while in the performance of duty where there is bodily injury. The penalty would increase from a misdemeanor of the second degree to a felony of the second degree.
Existing state law already provides stiffer penalties for assaults against EMS personnel, including doctors, residents, nurses, paramedics and other members of the health care community. The bill would extend the same protections to a broader range of health care practitioners and technicians.
“Every member of the health care community deserves to be protected against violence,” said Scarnati. “Increasing these penalties will reduce the risk of violence against health care practitioners and hopefully give them the peace of mind to serve patients to the best of their ability.”
All four bills have been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.