The 2017-18 Legislative Session was a productive one, with many important legislative initiatives being signed into law. It was also a session that saw several of my proposals signed into law. The ideas for these proposals were brought to my attention by residents in the district and were formed from situations I knew needed to be improved.
In order to provide improved health care to stroke victims, legislation I authored was signed into law this session that directs stroke patients to the appropriate hospital to treat their specific type of stroke.
The new law takes optimal advantage of federal guidelines that create three specific levels of certified stroke centers to treat patients based on their individual needs. The three levels of certification are primary stroke centers, acute stoke-ready hospitals, and comprehensive stroke centers.
Pennsylvania currently has 81 certified primary stroke centers. Here in the Lehigh Valley, we have St. Luke’s Hospital and Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Cedar Crest location, which became one of the first comprehensive stroke centers in the nation in 2012.
The new law works by directing emergency responders to take stroke victims to the nearest stroke center qualified to treat the severity and type of stroke occurring, instead of simply the nearest “primary stroke center,” which may not be prepared to handle the type of stroke the patient is having. This ensures the best possible treatment and health outcomes for stroke victims.
I also authored legislation to form a Pennsylvania Maternal Mortality Review Committee, which was signed into law earlier this year. It was a legislative idea brought to me by local constituents with the idea of helping to improve the health outcomes of expectant mothers and their babies.
A committee has now been officially created and is working to formulate solutions. Essentially, the committee is charged with identifying pregnancy-related deaths, overseeing the review of these deaths, recommending actions to help prevent future deaths, and publishing review results. This information will help clinicians and public health professionals better understand circumstances surrounding pregnancy-related deaths and enable them to take appropriate actions to prevent them.
In the Unites States, more women die from pregnancy complications than in any other developed country. Causes of death for expectant mothers include preventable conditions like preeclampsia and obstetric hemorrhage. Mental health conditions, including suicide and overdose, are also becoming the leading cause of maternal mortality in a number of states.
In states where maternal mortality committees already exist, there has been a significant decline in maternal mortality, as well as improvements in infant health.
In order to ensure better protection of local tax dollars, my legislation was signed into law to more clearly define best practices of local tax collectors.
The new law requires checks to be made payable to the name of the tax collector along with the office, title, or position and be deposited into a separate bank account only used for tax money. The practice of making checks payable to only an individual’s name would be prohibited.
By changing how checks from taxpayers are made out and ensuring the money goes into the correct account, municipalities and taxpayers now have an added layer of protection by ensuring their tax dollars go where they are intended.
Each of these measures are, and will continue, making tangible improvements across the state.
With the 2019-20 Legislative Session on the horizon, I look forward to continuing to work on legislation to help improve our quality of life here in the Commonwealth.
Representative Ryan Mackenzie
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tricia Lehman