Jul. 06, 2017

We have hit the halfway point in the state legislative year and I want to take this opportunity to update you on some of the legislative measures I have personally been working on to improve health care, the job climate, and education, while also implementing needed reforms and protecting taxpayers.

The greatest success thus far is that my legislation to improve stroke care in Pennsylvania was signed into law. With strokes being the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of serious long-term disability, faster and better targeted care is needed. My House Bill 23, now Act 4 of 2017, is designed to help emergency responders determine where the closest and best possible treatment facility is to take stroke victims depending on the severity and type of stroke occurring.

The new law takes advantage of updated 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 stroke-ready hospitals, and comprehensive stroke centers.

By providing this information to first responders in the field, we are in a position to better transport individuals to the type of care stroke victims need from the onset, thereby improving their outcome in terms of survival and reduced long-term complications and disability.

I want to thank the American Stroke Association, Lehigh Valley Hospital, St. Luke’s Hospital, Cetronia Ambulance Company, and many more for helping me get this legislation across the finish line.

In terms of jobs and education, I am still working on my CareerBound legislation, which would encourage trade groups, businesses, and institutions of higher learning to partner with middle and high schools to offer students exposure to careers in high-priority fields.

The pilot programs approved for participation in CareerBound would be eligible to compete for funding that would be generated through tax credits for contributing businesses. House Bill 25 is currently awaiting consideration in the House.

One of the reforms I have been working on to protect taxpayers deals with improvements to the current system of local tax collection.

My House Bill 16 would require checks to be made payable to an entity or 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, I believe this legislation will give municipalities and taxpayers an added layer of protection when it comes to their tax dollars.

House Bill 16 passed the House and is currently awaiting consideration in the Senate.

One last reform that essentially deals with health care is my legislation to improve the current prescribing practices within the state’s Workers’ Compensation (WC) system.

A June 2016 study by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute brought to light the significant overprescribing of drugs in Pennsylvania’s WC system. The results were stunning. The study found that, of the 25 states reviewed, Pennsylvania had the third highest amount of opioids prescribed per injured worker, and the second highest number of opioid pills prescribed per claim in non-surgical cases.

My House Bill 18 would have a panel of medical professionals create a drug formulary to be used by doctors when prescribing medications to WC patients. Doctors would have a list of medications and treatment options that have proven medically effective to choose from. If the doctor determines opioids are in fact warranted, then he or she could still go through the system to prescribe them with the medical evidence to support the necessity.

In other states, this type of system has been proven to help curb the growing incidents of opioid abuse and addiction by injured workers and also help them get back to work faster. These are the two types of outcomes we hope to realize here in Pennsylvania as well.

House Bill 18 is currently in the House Rules Committee. I am expecting a vote on the bill in the coming months.

For more on these or other legislative initiatives, contact my office at (610) 965-9933, follow me on Facebook at Facebook.com/RepMackenzie or Twitter at Twitter.com/RepMackenzie, or email me at Rmackenzie@pahousegop.com. You can also check out my website at RepMackenzie.com.

Representative Ryan Mackenzie
134th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Tricia Lehman
RepMackenzie.com / Facebook.com/RepMackenzie