Baker Bills Aim to Help Improve, Safeguard Public Health
HARRISBURG – Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter), chairman of the House Health Committee, has authored three bills passed by the House of Representative this week to ensure individuals across the Commonwealth have access to health care and safeguards are in place to ensure optimal care.
“As chairman of the House Health Committee, I continue to be an advocate of public health and making sure the state is doing everything it can to ensure people have access to the best possible care,” said Baker.
To ensure greater safety for those who may have a severe allergic reaction, Baker authored House Bill 126
to permit various establishments to have non-patient specific epinephrine auto-injectors available for emergency use.
Establishments that would be authorized to obtain epi-pens under the legislation include recreation camps, colleges, restaurants, sports arenas, amusement parks and day care centers. These facilities would not be required to have a supply of epi-pens, but they would be permitted to have them if they wanted. Those that do acquire epi-pens would be required to have the individual(s) in charge of storage, maintenance and general oversight and use of epi-pens complete a training program offered by the Department of Health.
Also included in the legislation is a Good Samaritan clause to protect entities, health care practitioners and employees from liability if they are acting in good faith when administering the medication.
“By having epi-pens readily available at these types of places, individuals who may have an allergic reaction are more apt to get the help they need in a more timely manner,” said Baker. “Some allergic reactions can have a fatal effect if not treated promptly, especially in children who may not be aware of all of their allergies yet.”
In order to ensure rural and low-income populations have access to quality health care, Baker also introduced and the House passed House Bill 644
, which would ensure greater funding opportunities for nonprofit health care centers.
“In May 2013, the Legislature passed the Community-Based Health Care Act to direct funds to support nonprofit health care centers in the Commonwealth,” said Baker. “To qualify as a health care center for this act, the facility must provide care to medically underserved areas with a patient population living below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Many of these facilities are federally qualified health centers, known as FQHCs.
“The problem is, at the time of the legislation, it was determined that there should be a cap on the amount which is distributed to FQHCs in order to provide more access to other health care centers or to encourage the development of other health care centers,” continued Baker. “However, many times the only applicants for these dollars are FQHCs, and additional funding that could help these centers remains out of reach.”
Baker’s legislation would remove the artificial 25 percent cap on funds for FQHCs.
“By removing the cap, more money will flow to health care centers that provide care to our most vulnerable citizens, who have limited access to any other means of care,” he added.
The House this week also approved House Bill 114
, which would require the non-custodial parent of children for whom Medical Assistance is sought to enroll their children in their own health insurance plan before the Commonwealth would pay for medical care for them.
“Medical Assistance is a taxpayer-funded program and, as such, it should be the payer of last resort,” said Baker. “My legislation would simply make sure that if health insurance is available from either of a child’s parents, that the child is added to their plan before applying to the government for payment of care.”
House Bills 126, 644 and 114 now go to the Senate for consideration.
Representative Matthew Baker
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tricia Lehman