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County legislator’s health care bill advances

CRANBERRY TWP — A bill introduced by state Sen. Scott Hutchinson, R-21st, which would provide stipends for more health care providers who join the National Guard, passed the state Senate on Wednesday.

The proposal, Senate Bill 927, now advances to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

Hutchinson’s bill would expand on Act 78 of 2014, which created the Medical Officer or Health Officer Incentive Program. The program provides tuition reimbursement to health care workers who served in the National Guard.

“This program began to provide a solution for what the National Guard saw as a lack of health care providers in the Guard,” Hutchinson wrote in an October memorandum to state Senate colleagues. “Even though the program was successful in luring health care providers into Guard service, some health professionals, like dentists and physician assistants, were inadvertently left out of the program.”

Under the proposal, additional types of health care professionals will be eligible to receive tuition reimbursements should they join either the Air or Army National Guard, with those who receive higher degrees — such as physicians and physician assistants — receiving larger reimbursements.

“Since the program was established in 2014, over 100 health care providers have joined the Guard with 80% participating in the program,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general and head of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “This incentive program is critical to support the medical readiness of our Guard members and their ability to provide medical support to our communities.”

The bill will now be considered in the state House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, of which no Butler County legislator is a member.