Benham introduces legislation aimed at ensuring all Pennsylvanians safeguarded from pandemic debt

Also backs effort for statewide vaccine distribution registry

HARRISBURG, Feb. 17 – State Rep. Jessica Benham, D-Allegheny, has introduced legislation that would ensure Pennsylvanians seeking care related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic wouldn’t face out-of-pocket expenses.

“Safeguarding every Pennsylvanian, especially those medically impacted by the pandemic, on top of other economic costs associated with COVID-19 needs to be a top priority,” said Benham. “The people of this commonwealth deserve access to treatment and prevention options that don’t add to, or create any additional financial burden.”

In addition to this legislation — aimed at specifically mandating insurance coverage for all costs related to COVID-19 testing, therapies, and preventions, without patient cost-sharing — Benham is co-sponsoring legislation that would create a statewide vaccine distribution registry to address another primary concern and cause of frustration.

“For nearly a year now we’ve been dealing with the economic, social, and medical ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Benham said. “While our legislature has attempted to provide relief in core areas, the sad reality is that we have failed to ensure we’re working to protect and to enable every individual to get the type of care and consideration they are entitled to receive as a resident of this commonwealth. The lack of a centralized place for residents to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine has been frustrating and embarrassing. With this vaccine rollout, we’ve done a disservice to the most vulnerable members of our population and those without the technology, or access to reliable internet access.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s reducing any fear of incurring additional medical debt, as with my legislation, or working to create a statewide database of available vaccine appointments so Pennsylvanians no longer have to navigate a complicated system,” Benham said. “The bottom line is that we can do better and must do better.”

House Bill 350 was referred to the House Insurance Committee.