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Concussions in High School Sports Need Regulation

E-Waste RecyclingAccording to the American Academy of Neurology, 40 percent of high school athletes that suffer concussions return to play too soon and during the 2007-08 season 1 in 6 football players who suffered a concussion and lost consciousness returned in the same game.

Concussions are an incredibly serious and dangerous injury, and if our young athletes do not get the right treatment and evaluation they could be at risk for harmful long-term effects.

Important legislation which I cosponsored is being circulated through the Capitol that would require an athlete who is suspected of suffering a concussion to be removed from play, not Safety in Youth Sports Act News Conference allowing them to return until they have written approval from an appropriate healthcare professional trained in the evaluation and management of concussions. The bill would also require coaches to complete a concussion management certification training course every three years.

The safety of our young adults is not something which can be put in jeopardy. The National Football League has taken the lead and drawn the national spotlight to the serious, and potentially deadly, issue of concussions. Now it is Pennsylvania’s turn to take the ball and pass this essential legislation to keep our young athletes from suffering a debilitating concussion.

Sens. Vincent Hughes, Wayne Fontana, and Jay Costa pose with former NFL players Mike Quick and Harold Carmichael and Tracy Yatsko. Yatsko is a former high school basketball player from Tamaqua who had her life completely altered after suffering a debilitating concussion during a game in 2005.

Update on adultBasic Extension

Improving access to quality, affordable health care and making sure Pennsylvanians can get the treatment that they need is of utmost importance. A couple of weeks ago, I updated you on the Corbett Administration’s plan to offer an alternative plan to the 40,000 Pennsylvanians who are on the adultBasic insurance program which is expected to run out of funding at the end of Februrary. That plan to move to Highmark’s Special Care program would bring significantly higher premiums, making it unaffordable to most working families.

On Monday, the new administration announced that it would now seek federal help to extend coverage to some people under the PA Fair Care plan, which is for Pennsylvanians who can’t get health insurance because of their pre-existing conditions. The Corbett administration proposal seeks money from other states that do not need it for their equivalent programs. The new plan would cost families $283 per month. They currently pay $36 per month.

We still have concerns about the latest proposal by the Corbett Administration to move adultBasic recipients into the PA Fair Care plan. First and foremost is the $283 premium which is still almost 8 times the adultBasic premium. While the program may include additional components, (pharmaceuticals, etc.) we are still uncertain as to whether additional funding is going to be used to offset the premium cost for participants. If not, then the cost still makes it unattainable for most working families.

AdultBasic was created by the legislature under the Ridge administration in 2001 with funding received through the National Tobacco Settlement Agreement. The program provides coverage for the basic health care needs of individuals between 19 and 64 who do not have health insurance and meet certain eligibility and income requirements.

Families that are currently covered under the adultBasic program pay $36 per month for this coverage.

We are also awaiting answers as we try to determine how this is a better solution than the Highmark Special Care program which was originally proposed. Our biggest concern is those people who will still be forced out of the system and left with no insurance, hence shifting the cost burden to hospitals, government, and the already-insured policy holders because there is no affordable option for these working families other than to be uninsured. We also don't know if the federal government is going to waive the 6 month "go bare" period that currently exists under the Fair Care program.

It is imperative that the legislature works with the administration to find not only a short term fix, but a long-term solution to keep this program running through December 31, 2013 when these people can transition to the federal health care program. It is an uphill battle in a tough budget year, but we cannot afford to let these working families lose this valuable and life-saving coverage.

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Facebook PA 529 Program Sen. Jay Costa says he is working with the administration to keep adultBasic program in place until Pennsylvanians can transition to the federal health care program.