Bills Championed by Baker Signed into Law
HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Corbett this week signed into law two health care legislative measures championed by Rep. Matt Baker (R-Bradford/Tioga), chairman of the House Health Committee, that would upgrade licensing regulations for abortion facilities and make important updates to the state’s Family Caregiver Support Program.
“I am extremely pleased to have the governor sign both of these bills into law,” said Baker. “They were both labors of love aimed at providing better care for people who may go to an abortion clinic and for those who wish to stay in their homes and be cared for by friends or family.”
Although Senate Bill 732 was sponsored by another lawmaker, it was Baker’s language (House Bill 574) that was amended into the bill which made substantial changes by holding abortion clinics to the same licensing standards as other surgical health care facilities. These standards will include certain fire and safety regulations, personnel and equipment requirements, and quality assurance procedures.
“The women and children of Pennsylvania deserve better than what has come to light in terms of the conditions and treatment some have suffered at abortion clinics in our state,” said Baker. “Grossly unsanitary facilities that demonstrate little regard for women’s health and safety needed to be corrected. This new law will make sure that abortion clinics undergo the same licensing regulations as other surgical facilities so that patients are assured of being treated by trained personnel in a safe and sanitary environment.”
Baker drafted the language for the bill in response to charges being brought against the head of the Women’s Medical Society in West Philadelphia, which performed abortion procedures. Dr. Kermit Gosnell was charged with eight counts of murder including seven newborns and one woman. It was during the Philadelphia County Investigating Grand Jury that the extent of unsanitary and substandard conditions at the center was revealed.
In addition, this past spring, an inspection report by the Pennsylvania Department of Health of an abortion clinic in Lehigh County also revealed abhorrently unsanitary conditions.
Senate Bill 732 was strongly supported by all pro-life groups in Pennsylvania and received strong bipartisan support in the General Assembly.
This new law takes effect in 180 days.
The governor also signed into law a legislative measure sponsored by Baker to update Pennsylvania’s Family Caregiver Support Program to include non-relative caregivers and bring the state program in line with its federal counterpart.
Pennsylvania’s Family Caregiver Support Act provides benefits and services for eligible caregivers who care for functionally dependent relatives 60 years of age and older, as well as adults with chronic dementia such as Alzheimer’s who are 18 years of age and older.
“As a former caregiver for one of my family members, I have been on a mission for the past 10 years to make it easier for those providing care to get the financial support they need, as well as have access to counseling and training opportunities to help them effectively manage the care of another individual,” said Baker. “I am really pleased to see this legislation signed into law, knowing it will help a lot of people taking on the challenge of caring for someone close to them.”
The new law will increase the maximum amount allowable under the program for out-of-pocket expenses from $200 per month to $500 per month.
In addition to out-of-pocket expenses, the program also provides grants of up to $2,000 for home modifications such as ramps and chair lifts.
The law also alters the definition of caregiver to include non-relative caregivers and removes the requirement that a caregiver must live with the care recipient. These changes bring the Pennsylvania program in line with what is offered through the National Family Caregiver Support Program.
“The definition of family is ever changing and we are finding in today’s society that more and more often friends and neighbors are being relied upon to assist with the care of an individual more so than a family member,” said Baker. “Now, thanks to this new law, that person would be eligible to receive the same reimbursement for out-out-pocket expenses that a family member would.”
The name of the program also officially changes with the new law. It now becomes the Pennsylvania Caregiver Support Program.
House Bill 210, which garnered unanimous support in both the state House and Senate, was signed into law as Act 112 of 2011 and takes effect in 60 days.
State Representative Matt Baker
68th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Tricia Lehman