Senator Doug Mastriano E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Mastriano introduces bill to increase access to COVID-19 Early Treatment Drugs
  • Senate Hearings on Proposed State Budget: Week Two
  • Pennsylvania Acts to Support Ukraine
  • Assistance for Home Septic Repairs, Sewer Hook-ups
  • PA ABLE Helps Families Save for Disability-Related Expenses
  • Disabled Veteran Real Estate Tax Exemption

Mastriano introduces bill to increase access to COVID-19 Early Treatment Drugs

February 28, 2022

HARRISBURG – Senator Doug Mastriano (PA-33) officially introduced legislation to ensure patients can easily access early treatment drugs following prescription from a licensed provider.

Despite a record of success in other parts of the world, it is increasingly difficult for a patient in Pennsylvania to obtain early treatment off-label drugs such as Fluvoxamine, Hydroxychloroquine, and Ivermectin following prescription from a provider. Senator Mastriano’s office heard from many constituents who have been encountering pharmacies that refuse to dispense these drugs even with a valid prescription note from a doctor.

SB 1091 will allow physicians and pharmacists to prescribe and dispense drugs already approved by the FDA for off-label use in the treatment or prevention of COVID, without penalty from licensing boards. The bill will also clarify that a pharmacy may not decline to fill a prescription of a COVID early treatment drug based solely on their opinion of the drug.

The legislation closely mirrors HB 1741 which was introduced by Rep. Dawn Keefer in the House of Representatives.

“Studies from across the globe have increasingly shown that the use of off-label FDA approved medications in the early or preventative stages of COVID infection significantly lowers the chance of hospitalization and death,” said Senator Mastriano. “A peer reviewed study by the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents found that an early treatment drug combination (hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin) decreased hospitalizations by 84% and resulted in a five-fold reduction in death. Another peer reviewed study conducted by physicians in Brazil found that those who took Ivermectin (compared to those who did not) had a 56% reduction in hospitalization and a 68% reduction in death. Sadly, politics, bureaucracy, and profit margin motivations are pressuring doctors and pharmacists to reject the use of proven off-label drugs. It’s time for the legislature to step in and ensure that all COVID early treatment options are on the table.”

SB 1091 has been referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee for consideration.

Senate Hearings on Proposed State Budget: Week Two

The Senate Appropriations Committee continued public hearings this week on the proposed 2022-23 state budget.

Gov. Tom Wolf proposed a $45.7 billion budget that would increase spending by $4.5 billion. Based on projections, this will create a $1.3 billion deficit in the following fiscal year and produce a $13 billion deficit by 2026-27.

Among the highlights:

At the hearing for the Attorney General’s Office, committee members discussed concerns with state government’s cyber security infrastructure. Last year, a data breach involving a Department of Health contractor exposed tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians’ personal information to hackers. The hearing also covered the latest stats from the Safe2Say Something anonymous threat reporting system for schools, as well as Philadelphia’s skyrocketing homicide rate.

At the hearing for the Department of Community and Economic Development, members stressed the need to improve Pennsylvania’s economic standing, noting that the current Corporate Net Income Tax rate has prevented many businesses from relocating and investing in Pennsylvania.

You can find information on other budget hearings, hearing video, livestreams and more at PASenateGOP.com.

Pennsylvania Acts to Support Ukraine

Pennsylvania has the second-largest population of Ukrainian Americans in the nation, with more than 122,000. Pennsylvania government is planning several responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in order to deny funds to Russia and show solidarity with Ukrainians.

Treasurer Stacy Garrity said the Treasury had started to divest its holdings in Russian-based companies. The Pennsylvania School Employees’ Retirement System is gathering details about its exposure to Russian-related investments and could divest in a few weeks.

In addition, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is reviewing its inventory and is expected to stop selling vodka made in Russia.

To keep Russia in check in the long term, we must reassert America’s energy independence. Increasing domestic energy production and exports to European countries will go a long way toward reducing Russian influence and denying the regime the funds it needs to make war.

Assistance for Home Septic Repairs, Sewer Hook-ups

Low-interest loans are available to eligible Pennsylvania homeowners who need to repair or replace their on-lot septic system or connect to a public sewer.

The assistance can help homeowners avoid or respond to municipal citations and improve the environmental health of their property. Loan terms are up to 20 years (up to 15 years for manufactured homes). There is no prepayment penalty if the loan is paid off early. The maximum loan amount is $25,000.

The program is administered by the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. You can find more information and terms here.

PA ABLE Helps Families Save for Disability-Related Expenses

In 2016, the General Assembly passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act and created PA ABLE accounts that give individuals with qualified disabilities, their families and friends a tax-free way to save for disability-related expenses, while maintaining government benefits.

Administered by the Pennsylvania Treasury, the accounts allow people with disabilities and their families the opportunity to save up to $100,000, without affecting eligibility for important government benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid. The withdrawals from the accounts for qualified expenses related to an individual’s disabilities are also considered exempt from federal and state taxes, and the accounts are not subject to Pennsylvania’s inheritance tax.

To learn more about how you might be able to save money with the program, the Pennsylvania Treasury is hosting free webinars, with the next one for individuals with disabilities, families and professionals scheduled for Tuesday, April 19 from 6-7 p.m. 

Disabled Veteran Real Estate Tax Exemption

Pennsylvania veterans with a financial need who served during a period of war and are 100% disabled could benefit from a state real estate tax exemption program.

An applicant whose gross annual income exceeds $95,279 will be considered to have a financial need for the exemption if allowable expenses exceed household income. You can find details about eligibility here.

Contact your local County Veterans Affairs Director to apply for this program.

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