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Health and Human Services

One basic tenet underpins the efforts of the Senate Democrats: health care is a human right. As a country and a state, we have a moral and ethical obligation to provide access to healthcare to deliver the best opportunity for people reach their full potential.

Whether it’s battling drug and alcohol addiction, treating mental health issues, addressing permanent, chronic, and high-risk health problems, or simply helping a sick child, we all confront circumstances that require health care throughout our lives. We are better off using collective action than fighting them on our own.

Providing insurance, access to safe hospitals and services, and ensuring equitable opportunities to receive care are at the heart of the Senate Democrats agenda.

We must:

Protect the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

ObamaCare has covered 20 million previously uninsured individuals. Now Republicans want to take that coverage away. ObamaCare has strengthened the healthcare industry and provided new opportunities to millions. However, should the worst happen, and the Republican Congress or federal courts eliminate ObamaCare we will pass legislation to:

→ Continue to require coverage of pre-existing conditions
→ Cover essential health benefits
→ Cover the children up to the age of 26 on their parent’s health insurance
→ Protect Medicaid expansion
→ Prevent insurance companies from imposing annual or lifetime limits on coverage.

Women Have a Right to Reproductive Autonomy

It is not the job of government to stand between a woman and her doctor, but we consistently see attempts from anti-choice legislators to restrict access to abortion. We will continue to fight all of these attempts.

Guarantee that Women and Minorities Have Access to High Quality, Affordable Healthcare

If health care is a right, it must be provided to all, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, disability, age, or sexuality. For too long, health care has not been equitably available to women and minorities. Insurance and hospital access has been denied, too expensive, or not covered necessary services in the past. We will fight to ensure everyone has equal access in the future.

Fight Opioid Abuse and Addiction

The opioid crisis has been declared a national and state emergency. We will fight to:

→ Establish more entry points and beds for treatment;
→ Strengthen prescription writing guidelines;
→ Make naloxone even more readily available to treat overdoses;
→ Allow families to petition for mandatory treatment of their addicted loved ones;
→ Work with pharmaceutical companies to identify solutions and prevention methods for addiction;
→ Impose an assessment on the wholesale import of opioids into Pennsylvania; and
→ Increase educational addiction programming in schools.

Fight for CHIP

The Children’s Health Insurance Program covers 180,000 kids in Pennsylvania and 9 million nationally. The Republicans have turned it into a political football by using it a vehicle for discrimination and political leverage in Washington D.C. We must continue to fund the program and ensure its existence on the state level.

Ensure Additional Funding for Human Service Block Grants

Moving to a block grant has provided counties with much needed flexibility to address specific concerns such as mental health, drug and alcohol treatment, child welfare services, homelessness, and intellectual disabilities. However, we need more resources to truly address the scope of the problem. Huge cuts were made to these programs under the Corbett Administration that we are still trying to dig out from. The Senate Democrats want more money to go to our counties to help address these pressing issues.

Gun Violence is a Public Health Crisis

One that We Can Address Through Violence Prevention Policy.

→ Ban Assault Weapons – We must prohibit ownership of assault weapons such as the AR-15 including its high capacity ammunition feeding devices and other accessories, as they have become the tool of choice in mass murders.

→ Extreme Risk Protection Orders – This would allow courts to order an extreme risk protection order (ERPO) if a person is demonstrating dangerous behavior, providing much needed protection to the public. Such an order would temporarily suspend an individual’s access to firearms if there is documented evidence that a person is
threatening to harm themselves or others.

Mental Health in Schools

Recognizing the particular vulnerability that exists in our schools, every school should provide school psychologists, school counselors, and school social workers to meet the mental health needs of their students.

Universal Background Checks

Currently certain gun show purchases and person-to-person sales do not require a basic background check. Every firearm sale in Pennsylvania needs to undergo a background check.

Our Members at Work

Sen. Schwank Issues Statement on Reversal of Roe V. Wade

Sen. Schwank Issues Statement on Reversal of Roe V. Wade

Reading − June 24, 2022 − The following is a statement from state Sen. Judy Schwank (D-11th) condemning today’s reversal of Roe V. Wade. “Today’s ruling is a severe blow to women across the country. A crucial right that has allowed women to make their own health care...

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Tartaglione’s SB 617 Passes Senate, Heads to House

Tartaglione’s SB 617 Passes Senate, Heads to House

Harrisburg, PA – June 15, 2022 –  Today, Senate Bill 617, legislation sponsored by Senator Christine Tartaglione, which would extend federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protections to siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren in certain and...

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Senate Approves Sen. Boscola’s Physical Therapist Compact Bill

Senate Approves Sen. Boscola’s Physical Therapist Compact Bill

HARRISBURG, February 5, 2020 – The state Senate today unanimously approved Sen. Lisa Boscola’s (D-Lehigh/Northampton) legislation that would authorize Pennsylvania to join the Physical Therapist Compact (PTC). To date, 23 states have adopted legislation to join the...

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Senator Haywood Opposes Restrictions on Women’s Right to Choose

Senator Haywood Opposes Restrictions on Women’s Right to Choose

Harrisburg – November 18, 2019 – Democratic Chair of the PA Senate Health and Human Services Committee State Senator Art Haywood (D-Montgomery/Philadelphia) released the following statement opposing Down Syndrome abortion legislation: “Termination of a pregnancy is an...

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