Senator Erickson E-Newsletter
This e-newsletter is designed to keep residents of the 26th District updated on state and local issues. It is a more timely and less costly way to keep constituents informed than traditional mailers, and I hope you find it useful. If you know of someone else who might want to receive it, please feel free to forward this email. If you'd prefer to not receive the e-newsletter, just click the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the page.
Senate Passes Community-Based Health Care Clinics Initiative
Legislation I sponsored to help develop and expand community-based health care clinics was recently approved by the Senate.
Senate Bill 5 would create the Community-Based Health Care Program in the Department of Health to provide grants to community-based health care clinics.
Community-based health care clinics provide the uninsured with a medical home that emphasizes a partnership among the patient, physician, nurses, and clinic staff. These health clinics become the place where patients are known, recognized, supported, and where they find a centralized base for medical care and connection to other medical and supportive community services.
They also help to reduce the use of costly hospital emergency visits and avoidable hospital admissions.
Unlike the new federal health care law and other proposals, Senate Bill 5 would provide access to actual care – not simply to health insurance. The Senate's action moves Pennsylvania closer to the day when quality health care is accessible to many who don't currently have it. Senate Bill 5 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Acts to Streamline Routine HIV Screening
When Pennsylvania's "Confidentiality of HIV-Related Information Act," Act 148, was enacted in 1990, HIV testing was primarily targeted at individuals from high-risk populations and blood donors. The act was designed to guarantee privacy, confidentiality and education for those tested. These goals were to be ensured by the requirement for pre-test counseling which included education about HIV prevention, and for signed informed consent.
In September of 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its "Revised Recommendations for HIV Testing" which called for routine HIV screening of all persons in a health care setting. Although Act 148's written informed consent provision was important when it was first implemented, it has become an impediment to Pennsylvania's ability to meet the CDC's recommendations for routine testing.
The Senate recently passed legislation I sponsored, Senate Bill 260, to eliminate the requirement for pre-test counseling, and provide for an "opt-out" provision, whereby a patient is advised that a blood test will include testing for HIV unless he or she refuses.
This procedure will prioritize identifying individuals who are unaware of their HIV status and getting them into treatment, while sustaining the fundamental voluntary nature of HIV screening.
Senate Bill 260 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. In addition to being recommended by the CDC, the measure is supported by the Pennsylvania Medical Society and the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.
Turn Around Don't Drown
Underestimation of the force and power of water is responsible for more deaths annually than any other thunderstorm-related hazard, according to the National Weather Service.
Motorists driving around barricades and onto flooded roadways contribute to the national 30-year average of 99 flood-related deaths annually. By comparison, lightning claims 61 lives annually, while tornadoes are linked to 54 deaths and hurricanes to an annual average of 49 deaths.
The NWS and safety experts launched the Turn Around Don't Drown campaign to prevent injuries and deaths due to flooding. Experts point out that flooding can develop within minutes or hours depending on the intensity and duration of the rain, the topography, soil conditions, and ground cover. A vehicle's buoyancy allows it to be easily swept away by very little water in spite of its weight.
Related dangerous conditions include the displacement of boulders, toppling of trees, destruction of buildings and bridges and the creation of new channels. Floating debris can further obstruct free-flowing water and become deadly for those trapped in flood waters.
Motorcycle Safety Program Revs Up for Spring and Summer
Motorcyclists can enhance their driving skills through the 2011 Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program, administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).
Novice and experienced riders are encouraged to improve their safety knowledge and operating skills at one of several locations in our region where classes are offered from spring through autumn.
In addition, the increase in three-wheeled motorcycles appearing on the highways prompted PennDOT to develop a 12-hour course, including four hours of classroom instruction and eight hours of practical riding experience.
Riders must provide their own three-wheeled motorcycle and protective gear, unlike the 15-hour Basic Rider Course, for which the attendee is provided a motorcycle and helmet; however, students are responsible for providing all other protective gear.
Car and truck drivers are encouraged to check out the top 10 Quick Tips All Car & Truck Drivers Should Know About Motorcycles for safely sharing the roadways with bikers.
Boating Courses & Safety Certificates Available
Both experienced and novice powerboat and sailboat operators are being reminded to brush up on their safe boating knowledge, according to the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PF&BC).
Those born on or after January 1, 1982 who plan to operate a boat powered by greater than 25 horsepower motors must successfully complete a PF&BC approved boating course and receive a Boating Safety Education Certificate, valid for a lifetime.
The PF&BC's Boating Courses & Safety Certificates webpage provides links to information necessary for home study, internet, video-based, and classroom instruction. Link to the PA Basic Boating Course Fact Sheet for a course outline and contact information listed by region and county. For more information on boating in PA, call 1-888-PAFISH-1 or 1-888-723-4741.
Mobile Devices can Guide you to PA Tourism Sites
You can now plan your Pennsylvania travel from the comfort of your home computer at VisitPA.com and then jump on the road with your smartphone, relying on the same website to support your travel plans.
The PA Tourism Office has adapted its website for greater flexibility, allowing you to check back in for Things to Do, Places to Stay, Destinations, and other Trip Ideas. (Safely pull off the road and log on to the mobile website.)
The website experienced a 34 percent increase in traffic last year with nearly 2 million web visitors from every U.S. state and 130,000 international visitors.
For details, go to VisitPA.com or call (800) VISIT PA. In addition, interested individuals can become a fan at facebook.com/visitPA, follow along with twitter.com/visitPA, share photos at flickr.com/visitPA, become a friend at foursquare.com/visitPA, or catch it on youtube.com/visitPA. Be sure to order your copy of the state's Pennsylvania Vacation Guide for planning or browsing during your travels.
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2011 © Senate of Pennsylvania