Atypical week in Harrisburg yields healthcare protections
By Rep. Anita Kulik
Typically, the last week of session is non-controversial, with light voting agendas, but this was not the case for the House and Senate which both met the week of Oct. 24.
Long days and late nights were the norm that week with numerous bills getting passed back and forth between both bodies, the most notable being Senate Bill 225.
The bill passed in both bodies with overwhelming bi-partisan support. All members from the House and Senate spent time on this bill which addresses health insurance concerns. Care and treatment of patients is at the heart of this bill.
SB225 is a comprehensive patient protection bill the likes of which has not been considered in decades. It ensures optimal treatment for patients and support for medical providers. It reduces the need for prior authorizations for “closely related services,” meaning a person will not have to wait for the doctor to get authorization for something unexpected that arises in the course of a patient’s treatment. The bill expands the definition of urgent health care service and tightens the time frames on authorizations so patients and doctors can get answers quicker and start treatments sooner. SB225 also eases the appeal and review processes, which gives patients more protection when disputing payment claims.
SB225 is a complex and comprehensive piece of legislation that helps better serve patients and ease burdens on doctors and health care providers. It is a clear pro-consumer, pro-doctor reform bill.
All concerned stakeholders had a seat at the table for discussions on the language of this carefully-crafted bill, which has been in the works for a good while. It is a big step in the right direction to further patient protections.
SB1201 also passed both the House and Senate. It remedies a problem patients have had with prescription eye drop refills. Because of the nature of eye drops – spills or misses when administering – the medication can run out before a refill becomes due. This bill stops that problem by requiring health insurance coverage of early prescription eye drop refills.
In other medical news, Medicare Open Enrollment began on Oct. 15 and will end on Dec. 7. Seniors and Medicare beneficiaries will be able to get free insurance counseling for this enrollment period.
As with any state-related program, please reach out to my office or your local representative or senator for assistance in navigating these programs.
Finally, I would like to wish everyone a Blessed Thanksgiving!