Apr. 30, 2018

Weekly Roundup
The latest news from the State Capitol
                          
Officials Asked to Investigate Drug Prices

The Legislative Community Pharmacy Caucus and the Pennsylvania Pharmacy Association are calling on state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale and state Attorney General Josh Shapiro to investigate practices by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), particularly CVS/Caremark. They believe the PBM’s are unnecessarily raising the cost of the state Medicaid Program for taxpayers and out-of-pocket expenses for prescription patients.

Other states are now investigating CVS Caremark, for practices they believe overcharge state taxpayers for prescriptions filled by their own CVS pharmacies and reimburse other community pharmacies for less than the cost of prescription drugs they buy while keeping the price differential. CVS and other PBMs have also imposed a gag order in their contracts with pharmacies that prevents pharmacists from advising patients when there are options for their prescriptions costing less.

For example, a pharmacist runs a prescription sale through the system and sees a patient’s copay is $40. But, the pharmacist knows if the patient did not use their insurance the same drug would cost them $18.99 out-of-pocket. The ‘gag order’ clause in the PBM’s contract prohibits the pharmacist from telling patients they could save money-- even if they ask.

The Legislature is working on a series of bills to address the allegations. To read more about this issue, click here.
                
         
EITC Help for Junior Achievement


It was an honor to take part in a check presentation by Capital BlueCross to Junior Achievement. Capital BlueCross was able to support Junior Achievement financially through the state’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program, which allows businesses to contribute to scholarship organizations (including pre-kindergarten) and educational improvement organizations, in order to promote expanded educational opportunities for students.
                  
         
Protecting Students from the Sun

In a commonsense measure, the House endorsed legislation that would allow students to apply sunscreen and use other sun-protective clothing during school hours or at a school-sponsored activity.

Under current state law, only the school nurse can administer sunscreen because it is considered an over-the-counter medication by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As a result, students must have a doctor’s order, not just their parent’s permission, and the sunscreen has to be administered by a nurse. Students can’t even bring sunscreen to school and apply it themselves.

House Bill 1228 would specifically allow students, during school hours or at a school-sponsored activity, to apply a topical sunscreen product without a physician’s note or prescription if the product is approved by the FDA for over-the-counter use.

In addition to the application of sunscreen, House Bill 1228 would also allow other sun-protective clothing, including but not limited to hats, for outdoor use. The items must still follow a school’s dress code. The legislation is now with the state Senate.
                  
         
High Tunnel Farm Structure Exemption Signed into Law

To help farmers struggling through recent agriculture challenges, legislation was signed into law last week as Act 15 of 2018 to waive storm water management plans for high tunnel structures, which are temporary buildings often used to raise produce through the early spring and late into the fall. I voted for this bill when it was in the House.

The legislation was needed to clarify storm water requirements put in place by the Department of Environmental Protection in 2016, which required them for these temporary structures. In many instances, the cost of a storm water engineering plan and executing that plan is more expensive than the high tunnel itself.

The use of high tunnel structures is not limited to professional agriculture. They are also being used in suburbs – on empty lots and even on rooftops – to raise fresh food in decent quantities in an urban setting where larger crop plantings would otherwise be difficult.

The new law takes effect early this summer.
                  
         
Swearing in the Mayor of BizTown


It was an honor to swear in Joey Barrett, a student at New Cumberland Middle School, as the mayor of Junior Achievement’s BizTown during a visit there last week.

Each student held a special role within BizTown. Some students worked on construction projects, others filled customer orders, tellers at the bank cashed paychecks, the District Attorney investigated a crime, the restaurant sold snacks and scientists performed experiments. I love that BizTown teaches kids they must work hard to earn money. It also teaches important financial lessons like writing and depositing checks, paying rent and utility bills, paying taxes and contributing to charities.
                  
         
Upcoming Bike Derby to Encourage Safe Cycling

I will team up with the American Trauma Society, PA Division, to help children learn about bicycle safety during the popular Dillsburg PickleFest on Mother’s Day weekend. The bike derby will be held in the parking lot of JPI Insurance Associates, located at 300 N. Baltimore St., on Saturday, May 12, from 10 a.m. to noon. The parking lot is located just off Greenbriar Lane, where PickleFest will be held.

In 2015, there were almost 467,000 bicycle-related injuries in the United States. Children (those aged 5-14) and adolescents (15-19 years of age) accounted for one-third of the injured riders, the highest of all age groups, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ensuring a child has a helmet that fits properly is one of the easiest ways to reduce to the risk of brain and head injuries, as well as fatalities. Children who attend will have the opportunity to ride through a bicycle safety course, receive information on bike safety laws and have their helmets fitted properly. All children must bring his or her own bike, helmet and proper shoes, such as sneakers.

For more information, call my office at (717) 432-0792.
                  
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