Ward Bill Limiting State-Funded Transportation to Methadone Clinics Headed to Governor

Harrisburg – Legislation sponsored by Sen. Kim Ward (R-39) that enacts limits on taxpayer-funded transportation for methadone clients received final legislative approval today and will be sent to the governor for enactment. Under Senate Bill 638, the Department of Public Welfare would require t...

Senate Bill 1127

Senate Bill 1127 is legislation guaranteeing payment during any future budget impasses at a rate of 90% to essential programs that have existing contracts with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Essential programs include:  subsidized child care providers, transitional food and shelter programs, f...

Ward's Task Force on Child Protection Approved by Senate

Panel to examine child abuse reporting laws and procedures, child protection. Harrisburg – The Senate today approved a measure sponsored by Senate Aging and Youth Committee Chair Kim Ward (R-39) to conduct a sweeping review of Pennsylvania laws and procedures governing child protection and the r...

Senate Bill 970

Senate Bill 970 is legislation that regulates liquor licensees that sell under a case of malt beverages.  It would require that they have a separate outdoor access from  an adjacent restaurant.  To Read Senate Bill 970 - Click Here

Senator Kim Ward Announces Legislation to Broaden Mandated Child Abuse Reporting at Institutions of Higher Learning

Plans on Creating Statewide Panel to Look at Additional Reforms Greensburg, PA – State Senator Kim Ward (R-39), Chair of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee, announced today that she is introducing new legislation to expand the responsibility of mandated reporting of child abuse to institutions...

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Ward Bill Limiting State-Funded Transportation to Methadone Clinics Headed to Governor PDF Print E-mail
Written by Staff   
Thursday, 19 January 2012 01:31

Harrisburg – Legislation sponsored by Sen. Kim Ward (R-39) that enacts limits on taxpayer-funded transportation for methadone clients received final legislative approval today and will be sent to the governor for enactment.

Under Senate Bill 638, the Department of Public Welfare would require that individuals who receive methadone treatment services, covered by Medicaid under the Medical Assistance Transportation Program, receive treatment at the clinic closest to their residence if they are using para-transit services by taxi or bus, or being reimbursed mileage for using their own vehicles.

"A program that provides taxpayer-funded transportation without strict guidelines is a program ripe for abuse and overspending," said Ward. "Limiting such expenditures makes sense in the best of times. In today’s economy, when the Commonwealth is faced with limited resources, it’s absolutely essential."

Currently, methadone recipients choose their preferred service location and the cost of the transportation is paid with tax dollars. The transportation costs totaled $32.5 million in 2009-10, an increase of 26.3 percent from 2007-08. More than one in three trips paid for through the Medical Assistance Transportation Program (MATP) is for methadone maintenance.

According to DPW, the legislation is expected to produce millions in savings.

The state Medical Assistance Transportation Program (MATP) provides transportation to individuals who are receiving methadone treatments by either reimbursing those with private vehicles at a rate of 25 cents per mile or by providing rides in vans and taxis with little accountability regarding the most cost-effective mode of transportation to the clinic.

"The savings this legislation is expected to produce are substantial, but it’s just one step in what must be an ongoing, comprehensive effort to save tax dollars," said Ward. "State departments and agencies must justify every expense, so that they do what Pennsylvania families have been doing for some time, and that’s living within their means."

The Senate originally approved Senate Bill 638 in June, and today concurred with House amendments to the bill, sending it to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

 
Ward's Task Force on Child Protection Approved by Senate PDF Print E-mail
Written by Staff   
Thursday, 19 January 2012 01:30

Panel to examine child abuse reporting laws and procedures, child protection.

Harrisburg – The Senate today approved a measure sponsored by Senate Aging and Youth Committee Chair Kim Ward (R-39) to conduct a sweeping review of Pennsylvania laws and procedures governing child protection and the reporting of child abuse.

Senate Resolution 250, creating the Task Force on Children Protection, was approved unanimously.

The Senate Aging and Youth Committee has been examining Pennsylvania's definition of child abuse and mandated reporting of child abuse, holding public hearings in August and October. In addition, the committee recognized that there was a critical need for additional child abuse training for mandatory child abuse reporters in schools, and unanimously reported out Senate Bill 449.

Senator Ward said charges surrounding the reporting of child abuse at Penn State University have made clear the need to elevate the issues for review by an inter-disciplinary Task Force on Child Protection to make recommendations to change state laws.

"The allegations regarding child abuse at Penn State shake every decent person to the core, and add a sense of urgency to our efforts to improve child abuse reporting," said Ward. "We need a top-to-bottom review to identify where our laws are ineffective, and to recommend what changes need to be made to shield children from such despicable crimes."

Ward noted that mandated reporters of suspected child abuse -- health care workers, educators, and others -- are key elements in the state's child protection efforts and were responsible for 77 percent of all referrals for substantiated child abuse in 2010. In 2009, Pennsylvania's rate of substantiated child abuse was 1.4 per 1,000 children and the national rate was 9.3 per 1,000 children.  Pennsylvania's rate fell to 1.3 per in 2010.

In 2010, Pennsylvania's child abuse hotline – ChildLine - received approximately 121,868 calls, including 39,791 referrals for General Protective Services. At least 344 Pennsylvania children died from abuse between 2002 and 2009, with many of them dying before their second birthday and many within families previously known to the children and youth system.

The 11-member task force will include members experienced in issues relating to child abuse or in providing services to victims of child abuse. The panel's final report will include recommendations:

  • To improve the reporting of child abuse.

  • To implement necessary changes in state statutes, practices, policies and procedures relating to child abuse.

  • To train appropriate individuals in the reporting of child abuse.

The task force will be appointed within 25 days of the adoption of the resolution and will issue a final report by November 30, 2012.

"Through our hearings, the Senate Aging and Youth Committee has learned that independent examination of medically diagnosed injuries to child

 
Senator Kim Ward Announces Legislation to Broaden Mandated Child Abuse Reporting at Institutions of Higher Learning PDF Print E-mail
Written by Staff   
Thursday, 19 January 2012 01:26

Plans on Creating Statewide Panel to Look at Additional Reforms

Greensburg, PA – State Senator Kim Ward (R-39), Chair of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee, announced today that she is introducing new legislation to expand the responsibility of mandated reporting of child abuse to institutions of higher learning, as well as increasing the penalties for failure to report child abuse.

The Senate Aging and Youth Committee has been examining Pennsylvania's definition of child abuse and mandated reporting of child abuse throughout this past summer. Public hearings were held in August and October. In the wake of recent events unfolding at Penn State University, Senator Ward felt that urgency was needed legislatively to include Universities and other institutions of higher learning in the mandated child abuse reporting requirements.

"The allegations regarding child abuse at Penn State shake every decent person to the core," said Ward. "At the very least, the state can immediately require that University officials now be required by law to report suspected child abuse in concert to the standards already in place through K-12 schools statewide," she continued.

Ward noted that mandated reporters of suspected child abuse – health care workers, educators, and others—are key elements in the state's child protection efforts and were responsible for 77 percent of all referrals for substantiated child abuse in 2010. In 2009, Pennsylvania's rate of substantiated child abuse was 1.4 per 1,000 children and the national rate was 9.3 per 1,000 children.

In addition to the new mandated reporting requirement, a second bill introduced by Ward will increase the penalties for failure to report suspected child abuse. The bill will make it a first degree misdemeanor for failure to report in a first violation, and a third degree felony for second and subsequent violations.

"These two bills will expand protections for children immediately. We also will be creating a Child Protection and Accountability Commission to evaluate the overall system of child protection between state and county agencies," declared Ward.

 
Senate Committee Sets Pittsburgh Hearing on Determining Child Abuse PDF Print E-mail
Written by Staff   
Thursday, 19 January 2012 01:22

Tuesday, Oct. 4, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC

Harrisburg – The Senate Aging and Youth Committee, chaired by Sen. Kim Ward (R-39), will hold a public hearing Tuesday in Pittsburgh to explore possible changes to the state's definition of child abuse or to the Commonwealth's Child Protective Services system.

The hearing will be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 4 at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, One Children's Hospital Drive, 4401 Penn Ave. (Rooms A & B of the Rangos Conference Center, which is on 44th Street, behind the Hospital.)

Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh was one of the first three hospitals in nation that dealt with child abuse, and the hearing will feature several of the hospital's renowned experts on the issue, in addition to officials from the state Department of Public Welfare and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The hearing is a follow-up to an August 26th hearing on child abuse. The committee could consider legislation in the fall.

 
Senate Aging and Youth Committee Examines Long Term Care Issues PDF Print E-mail
Written by Staff   
Thursday, 19 January 2012 00:28

Harrisburg – The Senate Aging and Youth Committee, chaired by Sen. Kim Ward (R-39), held a public hearing Wednesday in Beaver County on long term care in Pennsylvania.

Senator Ward, Sen. Elder Vogel (R-47) and other committee members heard testimony from state Aging Secretary Brian Duke, as well as representatives of Area Agencies on Aging, adult day services, homecare agencies and others.

"Thanks to advances in medicine and health care, Pennsylvanians are living longer. It is important that individuals, families and policymakers keep up with such progress and plan for long term care that strives for independence, with comfort and dignity," said Ward.

The hearing was held at the Center at the Mall in Beaver Valley Mall in Senator Vogel's district. The center is recognized as one of the best in Pennsylvania.

"This was a very informative hearing and I believe that we as a committee have a much better understanding of the many issues and challenges that Pennsylvania faces now and into the future when it comes to long term care," Senator Vogel said.  "A substantial portion of Pennsylvania's population is made up of senior citizens and that is certainly going to increase. It is important that we take steps to make sure we have adequate long term care facilities and that the health and well being of the residents living in those facilities is protected."

Secretary Duke noted that Pennsylvania ranks fifth in the nation in the number of people age 60 and older, and by the year 2020, one in four state residents will be over the age of 60. He said that in November the department will begin working with long term care providers and others to create a four-year plan to serve older Pennsylvanians and people living with disabilities.

According to the Pennsylvania Homecare Association, the bulk of Pennsylvania's long term care system is spent on nursing homes – about $3.5 billion compared to in-home services, which account for $386 million.

It was noted that difficult economic circumstances will require difficult choices, as Medical Assistance long term care and health care in general will continue to drive much of the Commonwealth's budget into fiscal year 2012-13 and beyond.

The role of Pennsylvania's 526 Senior Centers was also discussed. The centers often serve as an entry point into the long term care system.

The need for long term care is not limited to seniors. There are more than 260 Adult Day Services centers across Pennsylvania serving 11,300 Pennsylvanians under age 60 who are not capable of full-time independent living.

"This hearing is obviously just one step in an ongoing discussion regarding the need to update the Commonwealth's long term care system to reflect greater longevity and tighter budgets," said Ward. "I appreciate the input of Secretary Duke and all of the stakeholders who made the trip to Beaver County today. Working together, we can implement sound solutions that provide the best care in the most efficient manner."

NOTE: The hearing agenda and written testimony can be accessed at senatorward.com on the Senate Aging and Youth Committee page.

 
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