Affordable Care Act: Enroll Now
Open enrollment for health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is taking place now through December 15.
Funding for open enrollment and consumer help has been reduced and the website Healthcare.gov will be down from midnight – noon on most Sundays for maintenance during the open enrollment period.
It is important to recognize that you have access to quality health care through the insurance marketplace and it is open for business.
There is a concern that the shorter enrollment period and the reduced funding for open enrollment will decrease the number of people signing up for health insurance. This year Pennsylvania recorded a record-low uninsured rate of 5.6 percent.
To find out more, visit the Pennsylvania Insurance Department’s open enrollment page.
The Senate Democratic Caucus has designed a website with information on enrollment – www.healthcareforpa.com. If you need insurance or have friends or family that do, please spread the word that open enrollment runs through Dec. 15.
New Start Date for Community HealthChoices
Community HealthChoices (CHC) will begin on January 1, 2019 instead of the original date of July 1, 2018.
If you’re 21 or older and have both Medicare and Medicaid, or receive long-term supports through Medicaid because you need help with everyday personal tasks, you’ll be covered by Community HealthChoices.
Community HealthChoices will coordinate your health care coverage to improve the quality of your health care experience — serving more people in communities rather than in facilities. This gives you the opportunity to work, spend more time with your family and experience an overall better quality of life.
Community HealthChoices is a program for older Pennsylvanians and individuals with physical disabilities to coordinate health care and long-term services and supports. CHC is about choice – choice in where a person wants to live and choice in who will provide the care needed to make that a reality.
For more information go to http://www.healthchoices.pa.gov/info/about/community/
“Talk to Your State Senator” – Video Competition
Democrats and Republicans in the state Senate have partnered to fight drug and alcohol addiction through a video contest called “Talk to Your State Senator.”
This statewide video competition is available to ALL students in PA in grades 6-12. Through December 10, students can submit an up-to-5-minute video explaining their approach to preventing teens from using drugs and alcohol. DASPOP (Drug & Alcohol Service Providers Organization of PA) has graciously agreed to fund 6 monetary prizes in the form of PA 529 college savings.
Further details can be found at www.ACommonwealthCrisis.com
In June, the General Assembly passed a $31.9 billion General Fund spending plan for 2017-18. It was a responsible plan that increased spending by 1 percent. It did not, however, include a plan or a roadmap of how the spending plan would be funded, nor did it address the $2.2 billion deficit. For months, House Republicans refused to consider reasonable options to pay for it.
Finally, after months of deadlock, the General Assembly sent a revenue package to the governor in October that used a combination of borrowing, new gaming funds and revenue enhancements to raise the funding needed to pay for the budget. Unfortunately, the proposals did not include a Marcellus shale tax, increase in the minimum wage, or anti-discrimination protections, so these issues will all remain budget priorities for next year.
Last week at City Hall, I co-hosted a roundtable discussion with Sens. Lisa Boscola, Democratic Policy Committee Chair, and Judy Schwank, Co-Chair of the Women’s Health Caucus. The focus was to draw attention to street harassment and its emotional, physical, and economic consequences.
We had exceptional panelists that helped to define the issue of street harassment and present ideas on a solution that would combine new policies with increased education and awareness.
This roundtable was an excellent first step. I plan to continue this conversation at the state and local level until we’ve made it clear that everyone deserves to feel safe and welcome in public spaces and street harassment will not be tolerated.
If you’d like to watch the discussion, you can do so on my website at www.senatorfarnese.com .
Late last month, the General Assembly passed historic gaming expansion legislation. The bill, House Bill 271, included increasing Pennsylvania’s share in growing casino markets and a long overdue fix of local share assessments paid by casinos.
Here in Philadelphia, our casinos will pay a flat $10 million annual assessment. Importantly, this local share assessment includes a provision I drafted to dedicate a portion of that money to a new economic development fund -- much like those seen in other municipalities that host casinos.
The infusion of $5 million in economic development funding will be available city-wide and will allow neighborhood groups and civic associations to apply for important community projects. The City of Philadelphia and School District are also eligible to apply for these grants.
In addition, the city and school district will each continue to receive a separate dedicated portion of the local share assessment.
The bill generates new revenues through interactive gaming methods, including tablet gaming at airports, fantasy contests, iLottery, and online gaming.
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