Senator Baker E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Future of Workforce Development Summit
  • Senate Committee Advances Breast Cancer Screening Legislation
  • VFW Service Officer Appointments Available in Dallas
  • Medicare Open Enrollment begins Oct. 15, Free Insurance Counseling Available
  • Program Providing Help with Water, Sewer Bills Ends Oct. 28
  • Conservation and Natural Resources Grants Available

Future of Workforce Development Summit

Building a strong and robust workforce requires partnership, commitment and collaboration between business professionals, community partners and elected officials. I was pleased to attend the ‘2022 Future of Workforce Development Summit’ at Luzerne County Community College.

Not only did we engage in a meaningful dialogue and discussion of innovative approaches to helping industries address workforce attraction challenges, but we also heard from students and alumni of LCCC about their experiences and ideas. I appreciated Brian Tyluke, a recent alum of LCCC, taking the time to share his thoughts about the tremendous value of internships and of student mentoring.

Next week, I look forward to taking part in a joint hearing with the Senate Labor & Industry Committee and Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee, about regional workforce development initiatives in Northeastern Pennsylvania. This hearing will take place on Tuesday, October 11, at 1:30 p.m. and will be streamed live here.

 Senate Committee Advances Breast Cancer Screening Legislation

Far too many of our mothers, sisters, daughters and friends have been faced with the challenge of breast cancer. October is ‘Breast Cancer Awareness Month’, serving as a reminder of the importance of coming together to help combat this deadly disease, and hopefully someday prevent future generations of women from being impacted by breast cancer.  

As a member of the Senate Baking and Insurance Committee, I recently had the opportunity to work with my colleagues to advance two pieces of legislation that would remove out-of-pocket costs associated with genetic testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome, as well as supplemental breast screenings for women with a high lifetime risk of breast cancer.

  • Senate Bill 1330, requires health insurance policies to cover, without patient cost-sharing, genetic counseling and genetic testing for BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 gene mutations which are shown to increase a person’s chance of developing one of many hereditary cancers in his or her lifetime.
  • Senate Bill 1225, requires health insurance policies to cover, without patient cost-sharing, an annual supplemental breast screening for women with a high lifetime risk of breast cancer. The legislation builds upon Act 52 of 2020 which had secured coverage for breast MRIs by eliminating patient copays, deductibles, and coinsurance for this preventive screening. This supplemental screening is necessary because of failed early detection by screening mammography among women with dense breasts and those at high lifetime risk of breast cancer.

Senate Bill 1330 and Senate Bill 1225 have advanced to the full Senate for consideration.

 VFW Service Officer Appointments Available in Dallas

Next Friday, October 14, a VFW Service Officer will be available for scheduled appointments, at no charge, at my office located at 22 Dallas Shopping Center, Memorial Highway, Dallas. To schedule an appointment at this location please call (570) 675-3931.

Local veterans of all ages and from all service eras can receive information and assistance for government benefits. This assistance may include VA healthcare, compensation, pension, education and dependent benefits. Surviving spouses can also use these Service Officers at no charge to learn about their eligibility for VA benefits.

All veterans, not just VFW members, can request appointments between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Any veteran or spouse with questions regarding benefits, is encouraged to schedule a time to meet with a Service Officer.

Medicare Open Enrollment Begins Oct. 15, Free Insurance Counseling Available

The annual open enrollment period for Medicare beneficiaries begins Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 7.

Pennsylvania Medicare Education and Decision Insight (PA MEDI) provides free and objective information about Medicare Advantage Plans, prescription drug plans and Medicare Supplement plans to help Medicare beneficiaries compare plans and determine what best meets their needs. This work is done with the help of nearly 650 volunteers across the commonwealth.

You can learn more about PA MEDI counseling or becoming a volunteer on the Department of Aging’s website or by calling the PA MEDI Helpline at 1-800-783-7067, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Older adults can also call your Area Agency on Aging.

Program Providing Help with Water, Sewer Bills Ends Oct. 28

Pennsylvanians who may need help with water bills or wastewater service costs have until Oct. 28 to apply for assistance.

The Low Income Household Water Assistance Program provides assistance for families who have past-due water bills, had their water service terminated or received a notice indicating their service will be terminated in the next 60 days. LIHWAP is a temporary federal assistance program. Households can receive grants for both drinking water service and sewer service. Grants are issued directly to water service providers, and families must meet income requirements.

Applications for LIHWAP, as well as other public assistance programs, can be submitted online at Assistance Offices are available for in-person support if clients cannot access online services or need assistance or information that is not on the COMPASS website or the myCOMPASS PA mobile app.

Conservation and Natural Resources Grants Available

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) recreation and conservation grants program is accepting applications from municipal entities and non-profit organizations for a special fall funding round through Oct. 27.

Because of its unique funding source, the supplemental fall funding round has some differences from typical DCNR grant rounds. The primary difference is that for municipalities with populations under 5,000 people, the match requirement is 20% of the grant amount with no cap on project size.

DCNR’s Bureau of Recreation and Conservation offers a Frequently Asked Questions document, and more information about the fall round will also be published through the BRC e-newsletter.


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