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The Latest News from Your State Representative
Please do not reply to this e-mail, as I am unable to respond to messages sent to this address. You can contact me directly at vgaydos@pahousegop.com or here.
According to the National Institutes of Health, medication nonadherence for patients with chronic diseases is extremely common, affecting as many as 40% to 50% of patients who are prescribed medications for management of chronic conditions such as diabetes or hypertension. This nonadherence to prescribed treatment is thought to cause at least 100,000 preventable deaths and $100 billion in preventable medical costs per year.”

While many factors may contribute to a patient not picking up a prescribed medication, a primary reason for prescription abandonment and nonadherence is believed to be the out-of-pocket cost of medications and not knowing the cost before arriving at the pharmacy to pick it up and pay for it.

That is why I have introduced legislation that would enable health care providers to find and share lower-cost or clinically appropriate prescription alternatives and payment options with enrollees right in the doctor’s office.

House Bill 882 would create transparency in benefits, eligibility and costs for prescription drugs by requiring health plans and pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) to share certain information with enrollees and health care providers upon request.
Sharing this information directly during a visit to the doctor will help ensure that patients can make informed decisions about their medication purchases.

House Bill 882 has been referred to the House Health Committee for consideration.

Valerie Gaydos
Gaydos Cosponsors Legislation to Conduct a Study of Issues Surrounding COVID-19 Testing

Rep. Gaydos is a cosponsor of House Resolution 1087 that directs the Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) to conduct a study of issues surrounding COVID-19 testing in the Commonwealth and the subsequent collecting and reporting of testing information by the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH).

In addition, House Resolution 1087 requires a review of death certificates for residents who may have died from COVID-19 to ensure the deaths were properly, accurately and consistently reported to DOH. The resolution outlines not one report, but rather a series of interim reports that begin 90 days from adoption and continue until the governor’s emergency declaration related to the COVID-19 pandemic ceases.

The objectives for the study are as follows:

  •   Conduct a review of the number and type of COVID-19 tests completed in the Commonwealth.
  •   Review the policies, procedures and practices for reporting COVID-19 test results to the DOH and to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  •   Review death certificates for citizens who may have died from COVID-19 to ensure the deaths were properly, accurately and consistently reported to DOH.
  •   Identify any possible areas for improvement for DOH and its reporting of COVID-19 data, including test results, cases and deaths.

LBFC is using a phased approach with the first study addressing objectives three and four. The work on this study is underway.
Committee Hearing Finds Wolf Administration Still Shielding Information

Should the information on which the governor bases his decisions be released to the public? I have crafted numerous letters and Right-to-Know requests to Gov. Tom Wolf and his staff so I can inform you, my constituents, of what is happening in Harrisburg. However, the responses I receive are usually vague, incomplete or essentially answered with “you do not need to know.”

Act 77 of 2020 explicitly says that data used by a Commonwealth agency for any rules, policies or actions taken by the Commonwealth agency in relation to a disaster declaration should be an open record available to the public.

During the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wolf administration failed to provide public information to news reporters and the public. Sadly, the administration continues to not be forthcoming with requested information.

This was one of the issues addressed Tuesday at the first in a series of hearings by the House State Government Committee about the lack of government transparency during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cate Barron, president of PA Media Group, noted that state agencies are overusing the Disease Prevention and Control Act to continue denying access to COVID-related public records. She also raised issue with the governor holding only virtual press conferences, which prevented many members of the press from asking questions and holding the administration accountable. The public is extremely interested in obtaining information. Also, the Office of Open Records is poised to decide 3,200 appeals this fiscal year, which ends June 30, a 31% increase in one year.

Transparency in government is extremely important. A pandemic is no excuse for the administration to hide information from its people. Rather, it is cause to be more transparent. When the governor's office replies with its version of "we don't need to tell you," odds are there is a problem with transparency. If there is a problem with transparency, there is often a problem with accountability.

The next hearing will be held Monday, March 18, at 9 a.m. and will focus on government telework policies and data during COVID-19. It can be viewed at www.PAHouseGOP.com.
Mark Your Calendar and Make Your Voice Heard on Emergency Declarations

When voters head to the polls for the May 18 primary election, they will have a say in the duration of future disaster emergency declarations in the Commonwealth.

Under legislation approved by the House and Senate, two proposed constitutional amendments regarding emergency declarations will appear on the ballot. One seeks to limit emergency declarations by a governor to a maximum of 21 days, unless extended by a vote of the Legislature, and the other would clarify that a concurrent resolution terminating or extending a disaster emergency declaration need not be presented to a governor for signature.

There has been some controversy about how ballot questions are worded and who writes them but here is a simplified version of the question you'll see on the ballot on May 18. I Hope this helps.

Vote YES if you think Pennsylvania should be governed in a bipartisan way.

Vote NO if you think Gov. Tom Wolf should have unlimited power.

Here is the actual language of the ballot questions.

Ballot Question #1

Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to change existing law and increase the power of the General Assembly to unilaterally terminate or extend a disaster emergency declaration – and the powers of Commonwealth agencies to address the disaster regardless of its severity pursuant to that declaration – through passing a concurrent resolution by simple majority, thereby removing the existing check and balance of presenting a resolution to the Governor for approval or disapproval?

Ballot Question #2

Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to change existing law so that: a disaster emergency declaration will expire automatically after 21 days, regardless of the severity of the emergency, unless the General Assembly takes action to extend the disaster emergency; the Governor may not declare a new disaster emergency to respond to the dangers facing the Commonwealth unless the General Assembly passes a concurrent resolution; the General Assembly enacts new laws for disaster management?

As you can see, the governor and secretary of the Commonwealth have abused their discretion and inserted language into the constitutional amendment process intended to influence your vote in the May primary. Amending the Constitution is a process reserved entirely to the people of Pennsylvania, not the partisan interests of this administration. Every amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution since 1790 has been put before the people for their approval. It is in your hands to determine how your government should function.
L&I Takes Additional Action to Improve Unemployment Compensation Customer Service

The Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) is taking action to make it easier for Pennsylvanians with questions or issues to reach the department. Approximately 500 new customer service representatives will be added to the unemployment compensation call center and experienced existing staff will transition to resolving claims full time.

Faster Assistance

L&I is transforming customer service to provide faster assistance by phone and to resolve claims.

  •   Hiring and training a minimum of 500 new customer service representatives to answer calls, collect information and build claimant inquiries by June.
  •   Hiring and training between 50 and 100 new customer service team leaders.
  •   Reassigning the existing UC staff members answering calls to begin processing claims full-time.
  •   Implementing a customer service tracking portal that will assign a ticket number to claimants outlining ongoing UC staff work related to their ticket number as well as their place in “line.”

Increasing Call Center Staff

L&I is working with its call center vendor, InspiriTec, to hire the initial round of new staff by June. If needed, L&I is prepared to hire up to 1,000 total new staff to take claimants’ calls and improve UC customer service.

InspiriTec is working with L&I’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and PA CareerLink® to hire the additional customer service representatives. Interested job seekers can apply by contacting their local PA CareerLink® office.

The total cost of the UCSC improvement will not exceed $58.6 million and will be paid for primarily using federal funding.
L&I Provides Next Steps for Individuals Reaching “Benefit Year End” for Unemployment Programs

The Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) is reminding Pennsylvanians who applied for Unemployment Compensation (UC) on or after March 15, 2020, they may need to reapply and have their financial determination renewed if they are still receiving benefits. In previous years, most people were only eligible for benefits for 26 weeks, however the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and the state Extended Benefits (EB) programs have made many people eligible for benefits for more than a year.

Click here for more information. 
Hospitality Businesses Urged to Apply for Grants

Restaurants and other hospitality-related businesses in our region can now apply for financial assistance through the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program.

Established under Act 1 of 2021, the program allocates $145 million in funding assistance statewide to hospitality industry businesses adversely affected by the pandemic. Businesses in Allegheny County can find more information and an application here.

To be eligible for funding, the applicant must be a for-profit business that meets the following qualifications outlined in the law:
  •   Is not publicly traded.
  •   Experienced a reduction in revenue of at least 25% in relevant portions of calendar year 2020.
  •   Operates a place of business within the Commonwealth within the Accommodation Industry (NAICS 721) or Food Services and Drinking Places (NAICS 722) and where accommodations, food or drink are served to the public.
  •   Has fewer than 300 full-time-equivalent employees.
  •   Has a maximum tangible net worth of not more than $15 million, as computed in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.

Funding is limited and will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Grants will be awarded in increments of $5,000 up to a maximum of $50,000.
Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant Applications Open March 15

The 2021 round of Volunteer Fire Assistance Grants to aid rural areas or communities with populations under 10,000 people will open on Monday, March 15, and close on Thursday, May 13.

The program, administered through the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is geared to organizing, training and equipping local forces to prevent, control and suppress fires which threaten human life, livestock, wildlife, crops, pastures, orchards, woodlands and farmsteads.

The key objectives of this program are to save lives and protect property in unprotected or inadequately protected rural areas. Therefore, the selection of the participating agencies must be based on vulnerability and the adequacy of existing fire protection. The maximum grant for 2021 is $10,000.

To learn more about how to apply for the grant, click here. 

Applications will be made through the DCNR Grant portal here. 
International Women’s Day

Women of the world want and deserve an equal future free from stigma, stereotypes and violence; a future that’s sustainable, peaceful, and with equal rights and opportunities for all.

International Women’s Day was celebrated on Monday, March 8. Rep. Gaydos took the time to support a Women in Government (WIG) & Entertainment Software Association Discussion on Empowering Young Women to Find Their Voices - Building the Next Generation of STEAM Leaders. Women in tech have strong futures!

Speakers included U.S. Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan; Washington State Rep. Cindy Ryu, and WIG Board of Director Kimberly Bryant.
Spring Ahead: Turn Clocks Ahead One Hour This Weekend

Daylight saving time will begin on Sunday, March 14, at 2 a.m. Be sure to turn your clocks ahead one hour Saturday night before going to bed.

This is also a good time to check and/or change batteries in both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. In addition to regularly replacing batteries, it is recommended that the alarm units themselves be replaced every 10 years.
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District Office:
1005 Beaver Grade Road, Suite 106, Moon Township, PA 15108 | Phone: (412) 262-3780, Fax: (412) 262-3783
Capitol Office:
Room 428, Irvis Office Building, House Box 202044, Harrisburg PA 17120-2044 | Phone: (717) 787-6651 |
Email: vgaydos@pahousegop.com