House Health Committee advances bills to save lives of children, improve lives of seniors, protect dignity of all patients

HARRISBURG, March 29 - Following through on their promise to put people first, today, the Democratic-led House Health Committee, chaired by Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, passed three bipartisan pieces of legislation that will safeguard Pennsylvania's youngest to wisest neighbors. 

“From Day 1, I said that my goal as Health Committee Chairman was to consider and pass legislation that helps people in every age group from communities across the state. Now is the time to put the needs of Pennsylvanians ahead of politics, and the bipartisan bills we passed today reflect that priority,” Frankel said. 

Responding to a near-tragedy last fall and overcoming years of partisan inaction, the committee approved Rep. Jeanne McNeill’s H.B. 494, which would require buildings housing child care facilities with possible sources of carbon monoxide to have one or more carbon monoxide alarms depending on the size of the building. 

Last October, children and staff at an Allentown day care were rushed to the hospital after a child became unconscious and first responders found dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide in the facility. McNeill introduced this bill in previous sessions, but Republican leaders prevented it from being considered.  

“It’s alarming that there are no statewide carbon monoxide alarm requirements in place for the facilities that care for our children,” McNeill said. “In October 2022, a tragic incident occurred right here at an Allentown daycare center, forcing more than two-dozen kids and the adults who were caring for them to be hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning. Passing my bill would help ensure this never happens to another child or daycare provider again.”

The legislation passed 17-4.

To help get more care workers on the job delivering services to seniors in need where outcomes are best – their homes – and to recognize the role of video conference technology, the committee approved Rep. Ben Sanchez’ H.B. 155, which would remove an obstacle to hiring direct care workers by allowing interviews to be conducted using two-way video, removing burdens on job applicants and employers alike, while still ensuring face-to-face contact.

“The direct care workforce has been struggling to attract and retain high-quality providers for years. In order to strengthen recruitment efforts, we need to help the field keep up with modern times,” Sanchez said. “After the pandemic, professional job interviews over a video call have become extremely common. Let’s bring this to the home care industry so we can both maintain integrity in the hiring process while making it more convenient for the professionals who provide this essential service.”

The bill passed unanimously.

Because hospital patients deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, the committee approved Rep. Liz Fiedler’s H.B. 507, which would require medical schools, teaching hospitals and medical institutions to receive explicit patient consent for all procedures and exams performed under anesthesia by medical students or for training purposes.

“Making sure we have highly trained medical professionals is incredibly important, but at the same time, patients should be asked for their consent ahead of time,” Fiedler said. “We’ve taken great care to ensure that this legislation doesn’t limit how doctors treat patients’ medical concerns; it simply requires explicit consent where medical students are performing intrusive examinations for training purposes.”

The bill passed 20-1.

Since taking the majority of the state House in January, House Democrats continue to put students, seniors and working-class families at the top of their agenda. This year the caucus led the charge to create a pathway to justice for survivors of childhood sex abuse, implemented the most robust House operating rules in a generation, and is focusing on better jobs, better schools and safer communities.