BILL REGULATING HEALTH EXCHANGE NAVIGATORS SUBJECT OF HEARING

BILL REGULATING HEALTH EXCHANGE NAVIGATORS SUBJECT OF HEARING

A bill regulating health care navigators and certified application counselors under the federal Affordable Care Act was vetted during a Wednesday hearing in the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee.

Senate Bill 1268, introduced by Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair), would require navigators and certified application counselors to undergo certification by the Insurance Department and submit to criminal background checks and fingerprinting.

“Federal law does not require navigators or certified application counselors to obtain a certified criminal background check even though they have access to enrollees pertinent personal information,” explained committee Chairman Don White (R-Indiana).

“This bill is drafted as a consumer protection measure,” explained Sen. Eichelberger. “When people are working to provide insurance coverage for the citizens of Pennsylvania, I believe the Pennsylvania Insurance Department should have some role in tracking them and having some oversight.”

Not everyone is so convinced such a sweeping measure is needed, however, including the Insurance Department.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014/Author: The PLS Reporter
Categories: News and Views

INTIMIDATION TACTICS BILL CLEARS COMMITTEE, HEADS TO FULL SENATE

A loophole in the Pennsylvania Criminal Code allowing for violent intimidation tactics during collective bargaining negotiations is one step closer to being closed.

House Bill 1154, introduced by Rep. Ron Miller (R-York), passed the Senate Judiciary Committee today by unanimous vote. One amendment was adopted to the bill.

The bill as amended would close the loophole that allows certain harassment, stalking, and other intimidation tactics when they take place in conjunction with collective bargaining agreement negotiations. The amendment ensured that speech protected by the state and federal constitutions would remain protected under the crimes code; however, it also ensured that uses of weapons of mass destruction in such negotiations are completely illegal.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014/Author: The PLS Reporter
Categories: News and Views

RALLY CALLS FOR BETTER HUMAN TRAFFICKING LAWS

Human trafficking is the second largest criminal operation in the world. Pennsylvania is one of only two states lacking a sex trafficking statute.

A group of Senators and advocates met in the Capitol Tuesday morning to show their support for a bill attempting to change both of those facts.

Senate Bill 75, introduced by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), aims to provide a definition of human trafficking and prohibit it in Pennsylvania while also giving power to prosecute the perpetrator of human trafficking. The bill also provides training to respond to human and sex trafficking, details a coordinated response plan, and provides for victim services and protection.

“We have to stop treating victims as criminals,” said Sen. Greenleaf. “That’s what’s happening right now.”

Showing bipartisan support for the bill, Senators Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) and Andrew Dinniman (D-Chester) agreed with Sen. Greenleaf.

“This is nothing short of human slavery,” opined Sen. Leach. He said Senate Bill 75 would make Pennsylvania one of the most progressive states in the country when it comes to human trafficking enforcement.

Sen. Dinniman stated the impetus to move the bill should come from Pennsylvania’s Quaker founding, a group that he said was vehemently anti-slavery. “We and you are part of a tradition in this Commonwealth, that every man and woman is of value,” Sen. Dinniman said.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014/Author: The PLS Reporter
Categories: News and Views

COMMITTEE EXAMINES WAYS TO PROVIDE QUALITY INDIGENT DEFENSE

“You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.”

That portion of the reading of an arrestee’s Miranda rights has worked its way into the normal lexicon of law enforcement, legal professionals, and watchers of criminal investigation television programs.

The landmark 1963 US Supreme Court decision in Gideon v. Wainwright established the Sixth Amendment right to counsel and due process requires that those who cannot afford a defense attorney in felony cases must be provided one at the expense of the state. That requirement was later expanded to include any case in which one’s liberty may be deprived. One’s right to counsel in such cases has also been recognized by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in case law and in its rulemaking capacity.

What the right does not detail, however, is how well indigent defense counsel (also known as public defenders) should be trained or how public defender offices should be funded. Currently, Pennsylvania is the only state that does not provide funding to counties to run public defender offices.

Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee examined the issue in conjunction with Senate Bill 979, which would provide funding for a training center those involved in indigent criminal defense.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014/Author: The PLS Reporter
Categories: News and Views

CAMPERS RETURN TO CAPITOL TO CALL FOR MEDICAID EXPANSION

Nine months ago, a group of advocates calling themselves “Faces of Medicaid” camped out at the Capitol outside the office of Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) to urge Gov. Tom Corbett to adopt Medicaid expansion in its entirety.

Monday, the deadline to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, several of the same campers returned to the Capitol with Sen. Hughes to again call on the governor to adopt Medicaid expansion wholesale, as opposed to the Healthy Pennsylvania plan that has been submitted to the US Department of Health and Human Services.

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Monday, March 31, 2014/Author: The PLS Reporter
Categories: News and Views
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