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Elder abuse, mental health issues receiving bipartisan house support


By Rep. Anita Kulik

More often than not, and more often than thought, things can work well in Harrisburg.

The second session week in September found the House of Representatives working in a bipartisan manner to pass bills addressing issues relevant to many Pennsylvanians.

Elder abuse

Numerous programs exist to assist seniors with everything from tax relief to medical assistance, from healthy living options to housing help.

Yet, even with all these programs, our seniors are still vulnerable to scams and, far too often, abuse.

House Bill 2425 is titled the Communication of Older Adult Abuse Act. The bill seeks to provide further protections for older adults living in long-term care nursing facilities, hospice, personal care homes and assisted living facilities.

This legislation will assure abuse reported to the Department of Health, or the Department of Human Services, will be referred to the local agency on aging for screening and investigation in accordance with the Adults Protective Services Act. These departments will also aid in the investigation of alleged abuse.

Mental health

Mental health had become a growing concern up to the pandemic, but the past two years have brought the issue to the forefront, especially for our frontline workers and first responders.

House Bill 2806 will amend the Human Services Code by adding a section entitled COVID-19

Mental Health Public Awareness Campaign.

The bill will establish a public awareness campaign about programs and services available for first responders, health care workers, and other frontline workers and their families experiencing mental health issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. These mental health issues can include post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, substance abuse disorder, as well as other mental health-related problems.

Too often those in the health care professions and first responders put the needs of others ahead of their own, and do not look to take care of their own problems. Often, the affected individual feels embarrassed and does not want to discuss their feelings.

First responders and health care professionals deal with life-and-death situations which can profoundly affect them.

Deceased electors

Bipartisan support came for House Bill 143, which addresses removal of deceased persons from the voter rolls. The bill provides for coordination with local registrars through the establishment of a process to cross-reference the Department of Elections database of registered electors with death record information from local registrars.

Those electors whose information is verified and found on a death record will then be subject to immediate removal from the Statewide Uniform Registry of Elections system.

This bill also discusses procedures for when an elector changes address, either in-state or out-of-state.

Each of these bills must go through the senate and then to the governor’s desk before becoming law.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives will convene session again the week of Oct. 24.

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