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New Senate Bill Could Offer More Access To Health Care Needs For Workers With Disabilities

Carolyn Kaster

A bill that aims to let more people with disabilities access a program that gives them medical services appears primed to move quickly through the state Senate.

It may be a rare area where Democrats and Republicans can agree on health care.

The bill concerns the state’s Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities program, which is designed to let working people with disabilities earn more money without totally losing state benefits.

Sponsored by Berks County GOP Senator Bob Mensch, the measure would raise the program’s earnings cap from $61,000 to $75,000.

In a memo, Mensch said the cap sometimes discourages people from accepting wages or promotions.

The premium that program users pay the state would also increase, from five to 7.5 percent of their monthly income.

The bill was recently assigned to the Senate’s Health Committee. Among its co-sponsors are the chamber’s Democratic Minority Leader, and the Republican Senate President Pro Tempore.

So far, advocacy groups also appear to be on board.

A spokeswoman for the state Health Access Network, which lobbies for health care accessibility, said in general it always supports initiatives to expand coverage.

She added, the group is still reviewing the bill’s language.