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Committee Advances Proposal Granting Full Practice Authority to Nurses
Pennsylvania is in the midst of a health care crisis, not only due to the cost of coverage, but also in terms of the availability of quality care. Especially in rural areas, the number of practicing physicians is dwindling, and fewer new doctors are coming in to replace those who retire.
One potential solution to this problem is to allow experienced and knowledgeable Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) to help close the gap in care by allowing them to practice to the fullest extent of their training and education. Studies have shown that APRNs are perfectly suited to meet the growing demand for services, and numerous medical advocacy groups have voiced their support for this commonsense reform.
This week, the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee endorsed legislation I sponsored to give APRNs full practice authority in Pennsylvania. Although they would still be required to fulfill a three-year, 3600-hour collaboration agreement with a physician, APRNs would be able to practice on their own thereafter. This change would help expand care options in underserved areas across the Commonwealth.
Committee approval clears the way for the full Senate to consider the bill in the near future. The Senate approved a similar measure last year in the previous legislative session, and I am hopeful we can build on this success and see my bill signed into law during the current session.
This week, I joined APRNs from across the state for a rally in favor of granting full practice authority to our most knowledgeable, experienced and effective nurses. My thanks goes out to all of these dedicated health care professionals for making their voices heard and offering a new avenue to help patients.
Senate Approves Emergency Funding for UC Call Centers
Governor Wolf’s decision to close three Unemployment Compensation call centers in December created serious obstacles that prevented many claimants from receiving benefits to which they were entitled. I supported legislation this week that would provide temporary funding to help ease the burden on call centers and ensure Pennsylvanians who rely on unemployment compensation can receive their benefits.
Because there have been numerous unanswered questions about how money allocated by the General Assembly has been used by the Department of Labor, the legislation clearly stipulates how the $15 million in emergency funding is to be spent. A comprehensive audit is underway to study spending from the Unemployment Compensation Fund and the Service and Infrastructure Improvement Fund. When this audit is completed in the near future, I look forward to working with my colleagues to find a solution to the long-term problems with the system.
Committees Continue Review of Governor’s Agency Merger Proposal
Several Senate committees, including the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee which I chair, will continue our thorough review of Governor Wolf’s proposal to consolidate a number of state agencies. The committees held hearings in Harrisburg and Reading earlier this month, and the next hearing is scheduled in Pittsburgh on May 1.
The hearing will be held from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the William Pitt Union Assembly Room on the University of Pittsburgh campus. Additional details regarding the hearing will be available soon on my website at www.senatorbartolotta.com.
TV Program Highlights Third-Generation Greene County Business
The latest edition of my “Focus on the 46th” TV program includes highlights from my tour of Wilson Forest Products, a third-generation business in Jefferson, Greene County. The tour offered a behind-the-scenes look at the facility’s operations, including the entire process of turning logs into finished barrels.
I enjoyed visiting with members of the Pennsylvania Society for Clinical Social Work during the group’s Legislative Education Advocacy Day at the State Capitol Building.
Grant Supports Food Service at Aliquippa Junior/Senior High School
A state grant of nearly $15,000 will help support healthier meals for students at Aliquippa Junior/Senior High School. The grant, which was awarded as part of the Food Service Equipment Grant program, will help the school purchase equipment to serve healthier meals that meet the updated meal patterns, including an emphasis on fruits and vegetables in school meals, improved food safety, and expanded access to healthy options.
Creation of PA Medical Cannabis Program Remains On Track for Completion
Pennsylvania recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of the enactment of a new law allowing patients with qualifying health conditions to use medicinal cannabis under the supervision of a doctor. The Department of Health recently announced that the creation of Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program is still on track for completion in the next 6-12 months.
Patients with qualifying medical conditions, such as epilepsy or cancer, should be able to seek medicinal cannabis from their doctor beginning in 2018. More information on the program is available here.
For more information on issues of importance to southwestern Pennsylvania, please visit my website at www.senatorbartolotta.com and connect with me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/senatorbartolotta) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/senbartolotta).
SouthPointe District Office
Greene County Office Building