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State Senate Approves Health Emergency Legislation

June 20, 2018

After Governor Wolf declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency and signed a statewide disaster declaration, state Senator Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) introduced legislation to formally allow the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) to declare a public health emergency.

Today, the Pennsylvania Senate voted unanimously to approve the measure. Senate Bill 1001 is now on its way to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Under the legislation, a public health emergency is defined as “an occurrence or imminent threat of a disease or condition of public health importance” that has been caused by:

  • A bioterrorist event, a biological, chemical or nuclear agent, a chemical attack, or a nuclear attack
  • The appearance of a novel or previously controlled or eradicated infectious agent or biological toxin
  • A natural disaster, an accidental chemical release, or nuclear incident
  • A disease outbreak or unusual expression of illness

And also poses a high probability of:

  • Death
  • Serious or long-term disabilities
  • Widespread exposure to an infectious or toxic agent that poses a significant risk of substantial present or future harm to the public health

Senator Costa said that Senate Bill 1001 also will provide a hands-on approach to help end the opioid crisis. It will also give authorization to the DOH to waive current regulations and create new, temporary ones. The department could publish notices in the Pennsylvania Bulletin for tracking and treating a disease, illness, or event.

For more information please contact Scott Bishop, HAP’s senior vice president, legislative advocacy; Stephanie Watkins, HAP’s vice president, state legislative advocacy; or Dr. Michael Consuelos, HAP’s senior vice president, clinical integration.

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