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State Representative Justin Simmons Report

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The Weekly Roundup
Friday, June 15, 2018  The latest news from the State Capitol

Saving Our Ambulance Services

With ambulance companies in urban, suburban and rural communities across the state struggling to keep their doors open, lawmakers and EMS personnel gathered at the state Capitol recently and issued a call to action on legislation to help ensure fair reimbursement for services provided.

House Bill 699 would increase the Medicaid reimbursement rate for Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advance Life Support (ALS) to $180 and $200, respectively. The current rates are 200 percent below Medicare and commercial insurance reimbursements and haven’t been increased since 2004.

House Bill 1013/Senate Bill 1003 would require reimbursement for services rendered by an ambulance service, even if no transport takes place. Under current law, an ambulance service responding to a person in diabetic shock or overdosing may provide care that eliminates the need to transport the patient to the hospital, but that also means the ambulance personnel receive no reimbursement for their time, fuel, equipment or medication used.

The number of ambulance services in Pennsylvania has declined by approximately 400 over the last five years. In addition to financial challenges, ambulance companies are also struggling to recruit and retain volunteers and/or staff. A special commission is currently studying additional options to help ensure emergency medical services remain available.

Keeping Vaping Products Out of Minors’ Hands

Two bills that would prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes, e-cigars, JUULs and other related vaping products to minors (House Bill 2226) and make it illegal to possess the devices in Pennsylvania schools and on school buses (House Bill 2268) unanimously passed the House this week.

“Juuling” is the latest craze among teens that is also raising serious health concerns. Named after the vaping device, the JUUL also delivers nicotine and looks like a flash drive. In fact, the product can actually be placed into the USB port of a computer to be charged, making it even easier for young people to conceal their underage use.

Both bills now advance to the Senate for consideration.

Strong Moms Lead to Strong Babies

Bipartisan legislation seeking to help mothers who may suffer from postpartum depression and their babies unanimously passed the House this week and is going to the Senate for review.

Under House Bill 200, infants whose mothers screen at risk for depression would automatically qualify for early intervention assessment, tracking and – if necessary – ongoing in-home services. The legislation also has the added, proven benefit of connecting mothers with depression to mental health care.

This would allow infants and their mothers who suffer from this condition to have access to the services that are already in place in all 67 counties to support healthy child development.

Studies show that one in seven women can experience depression in the year following giving birth and the results can be debilitating and devastating. Untreated, postpartum depression may last for many months, and can cause emotional and behavioral problems, such as sleeping and eating difficulties, excessive crying, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the children and their parents.

Economic Update

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s General Fund revenue collections for the month of May were $2.46 billion, which was $43 million less than the official estimate. So far this fiscal year, General Fund collections of $31.48 billion are above the official estimate by $121.6 million or 0.39 percent. Learn more in our Economic Brief.

Deadline Extended for State Rebate Program

Older adults and individuals with disabilities now have until Dec. 31, 2018, to apply for the state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate program. The original deadline was June 30.

The rebate program benefits eligible residents age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded. The maximum standard rebate is $650.

Eligibility information and forms are available on my website at RepSimmons.com or by contacting my office in Coopersburg, Emmaus or Red Hill.

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Our District
Web Site

RepSimmons.com
Office Locations
21 N. Main Street, Unit 9, Coopersburg, PA 18036 | Phone: (610) 282-0160
191 Main St., Suite 104, Emmaus, PA 18049 I Phone: (610) 965-5830
 56 W. Fourth St., Second Floor, Red Hill, PA 18076 I Phone: (215) 679-3152
5 East Wing, PO Box 202131, Harrisburg, PA 17120-2131 | (717) 783-1673
Email: jsimmons@pahousegop.com
TTY: 855-282-0614

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