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While I know that we have addressed the Berks Heim funding and the (dreaded!) Spotted Lanternfly several times in this newsletter, I thought it would be wise to update you on how the Heim fared in the state budget, and, of course, how the spotted lanternfly has advanced as the summer progresses.

Stay cool!

The Berks Heim

Berks Heim - Photo from County of BerksMy office continues to receive calls about the Berks Heim, and I promised to keep you apprised of anything I learn about the Heim and funding. 

As you know, one of the proposed solutions to keeping the Heim under county control calls for state legislators to raise the daily amount of money the county receives for each Medicaid patient, an amount which has only increased 6.6 percent over the last 11 years. 

Now that the dust has settled on the 2018-2019 state budget, I am happy to say that this year’s state budget includes a 1 percent increase in reimbursements for Medicaid patients in long-term care facilities, including Berks Heim, in areas of the Commonwealth not yet included in the new Community Health Choices mandatory managed care model. More on that in a moment. 

This increase is not as much as I would have liked, but it should provide the county with about an additional $250,000 in funding for the Heim next year. 

Unfortunately, this issue is far more complicated than just simply raising per diems. The Heim will need more funding. 
But there is hope. The Heim has received money through Internal Government Transfers (IGT). In fact, IGT funds to the Heim has increased over the last three years. 

In 2016, the Heim received approximately $1.28 million in IGT funds. In 2017, it received approximately $1.45 million and in 2018 the Heim is expected to receive $2.57 million.

In 2020, long-term care facilities in our region, including the Berks Heim, will be included in the state’s mandatory managed care Community Health Choices Program (CHC). Since Managed Care Organizations (MCO) under CHC negotiate and have more control (for quality placement, etc), well-performing county nursing homes should make out better with rates and placements negotiated with those MCOs. 

This is all to say that my colleagues in Harrisburg and I know how important our constituents consider the Heim as a county controlled facility. 

We’re still working on finding ways to increase support for our county-owned and other nursing facilities. While we do this, there still may be a need to invest more local dollars to support the Heim, which is something Allegheny County is doing. 

I think most Berks Countians would join me in supporting that decision if our Commissioners decide they need to make that investment.

Please contact my office if you have further questions or comments about the Heim.

Spotted Lanternfly Update

At this point of the year, I think it’s safe to say that most of you have seen a spotted lanternfly nymph, or you’ve heard from a neighbor or friend who has. They’re all over Berks County, and are growing bigger.

I come from a horticulture background, and I’ve followed this issue closely not only as someone who represents constituents who have been affected by the spotted lanternfly, but as someone who has them in her own backyard.   

In the face of the continuing spread of the spotted lanternfly, it is quickly becoming clear that the route we must take is management-oriented. It is essential that we focus on control. We all have a part to play in this effort.

The lanternfly will be reaching adulthood soon, and will begin flying to different host plants. Spotted lanternfly adults are particularly attracted to Ailanthus trees, better known as Tree of Heaven, because they are its primary food source. Unfortunately, Ailanthus trees can be found all over the county. They grow on the side of our highways and in our woods. For this reason, total control of all the spotted lanternflies on your property may be very difficult. Aim to protect the most valuable plants in your landscape.  

The Department of Agriculture recommends removing as many of the Tree of Heaven from your property as possible, and then treating the remaining trees with pesticides. Preliminary research from Penn State Extension has revealed that insecticides with the active ingredients dinotefuran, imidacloprid, carbaryl, and bifenthrin are effective at controlling the spotted lanternfly. If you are looking for an organic alternative, neem can be used, but may not be as effective.

You can also band your trees with sticky tape. There are several videos available on my website describing this process, along with other control methods. You can find these videos here:

Around September, spotted lanternflies will once again lay egg masses on any surface imaginable: tree trunks, vehicles, picnic tables, and other yard furniture. These egg masses are easiest to locate when they freshly laid. After a month or two, they tend to darken and become harder to see. Later this summer, take a walk around your property and destroy as many egg masses as possible by either crushing them or scraping them. My office has cards available with information that can be used to scrape the eggs, along with flyers and other educational materials that I encourage you to look at.

Finally, I encourage you to learn as much as you can about this invasive pest. Be on the lookout for presentations about the spotted lanternfly. You can find upcoming meeting dates by searching on this website.

Being Social

Twitter/Facebook Facebook Twitter It’s a privilege to be your state senator, so it is important to me to be in touch with you.

I really like face-to-face meetings but understand that in this busy world, sometimes that isn’t possible. Feel free to call my office to ask questions or make suggestions. Also, you may connect with me through my pages on Facebook and Twitter. Please follow me for regular updates and comments about what’s happening in the district and in Harrisburg.

Offices to Serve You

  District Office
210 George Street
Suite 201
Reading, PA 19605
Phone: (610) 929-2151
Fax: (610) 929-2576
Harrisburg Office
457 Main Capitol Building
Senate Box 203011
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3011
Phone: (717) 787-8925
Fax: (717) 772-0578