|Fighting Opioid Abuse
A new law that requires opioids to be prescribed electronically will bring consistency in the way prescriptions are filled and will also prevent the fraudulent use of prescription pads to fuel the opioid crisis.
At one time, written prescriptions were the safest form of prescribing opioids, which state law required. Since that time and the rise of the opioid epidemic, providers’ prescription pads have been stolen, leading to fraudulent use and driving fake prescriptions for the addictive drug.
Act 96 of 2018 (formerly House Bill 353) will make it more difficult to have fake prescriptions filled, while also making it more convenient for patients who have a legitimate need for the medication. Currently, most all medications are prescribed electronically.
Another benefit of e-prescribing is that the tracking of the prescription can go directly to the state’s prescription drug monitoring database to help ensure only those who have a legitimate medical need for these prescriptions can access them.
Realtors Receive Legislative Update
I attended this week the Pocono Mountains Association of Realtors Legislative Breakfast, where I provided an update about legislation currently under consideration in the House Local Government Committee. This is one of the handful of House committees on which I serve.
Assistance for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Now Law
Two new laws signed by the governor will assist grandparents raising their grandchildren and help them better access both private and public resources.
House Bill 2133, now Act 89 of 2018, will establish the Kinship Caregiver Navigator Program, an informational resource for these grandparents that will operate both as a website and a toll-free hotline. The website will offer information on support and services available, and a specially trained navigator through the hotline will be able to provide support and guidance to kinship caregivers, and serve as a mediator to establish relationships between kinship caregivers and relevant federal, state and local agency staff.
The cost to state taxpayers will be greatly reduced, as the Commonwealth just received $479,307 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families to develop the program.
Another measure to help grandchildren, House Bill 1539, now Act 88 of 2018, will allow grandparents to have temporary guardianship when the parents of the grandchildren are unable to care for them primarily due to substance abuse issues.
An estimated 82,000 grandparents are the sole caregivers for the nearly 89,000 grandchildren in Pennsylvania.
Governor’s Vetoes Perplex Lawmakers
The governor’s decision to veto important cost-saving and education measures last week has perplexed lawmakers.
The bills would have dramatically reduced the state’s debt (House Bill 83), required the Department of Human Services to institute work requirements for Medical Assistance recipients (House Bill 2138), and expanded career and technical education (CTE) opportunities for students across Pennsylvania (House Bill 2157).
Specifically, both House Bill 83 and House Bill 2157 passed with overwhelming bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate. House Bill 83 could have reduced outstanding general obligation debt by $1 billion over 20 years, and House Bill 2157 would have made it easier for schools to establish and renew vocational programs.
This is the second time that Gov. Tom Wolf has vetoed work requirements for able-bodied individuals on Medical Assistance, even though work requirements are in place for food stamp assistance.
All three bills are expected to be reintroduced in the new 2019-20 legislative session.
Turn Those Clocks Back This Weekend
Daylight saving time will end at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 4, and Pennsylvania residents will be turning their clocks back one hour before going to bed on Saturday night.
Experts recommend using this reminder to check or change the batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms should be replaced every 10 years, and located near bedrooms and on each level of the residence.