Boback’s Bill to Create a Day Care Program for Older Veterans Passed by House

Legislation that would create an elderly veteran’s day care program within the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), sponsored by Rep. Karen Boback (R-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming), was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives recently.

“We have a deep feeling of gratitude and admiration toward the men and women who have served our country, said Boback, who chairs the House Veterans Affair and Emergency Preparedness Committee. “This program would provide an additional layer of support for these veterans and their families.”

Boback’s proposal would establish an adult day care program to be known as “Community-Based Palliative Care,” Under the legislation, the DMVA would administer a non-hospital specialized medical care in a veterans’ home or with a partner in a related health care facility licensed by the Department of Health to veterans who are living with a serious illness.

“For veterans facing challenging medical conditions or illness, palliative care can provide relief from pain and suffering – and can offer additional benefits for family members who may be acting as a veteran’s informal caregiver,” Boback added. “The ultimate goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life for both the patient and their family, regardless of diagnosis.”

House Bill 1972 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Boback Leads Hearing on Pennsylvania’s EMS Crisis

Rep. Karen Boback (R-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming), majority chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, on Tuesday convened a public hearing to examine Pennsylvania’s emergency medical services (EMS) crisis.

The committee heard from stakeholder groups about the recruitment and retention of personnel, financial needs, billing constraints, hospital emergency room protocols, local government support initiatives and COVID-19 challenges to the EMS system.

“Due to their funding needs, manpower shortages and low reimbursement rates by government programs and insurers, Pennsylvania’s EMS system is in crisis,” said Boback. “We are learning what is at stake if things do not change and what the Legislature can do to improve the EMS system.”

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, there are about 1,300 licensed EMS agencies in the Commonwealth and over 40,000 certified EMS providers. The EMS system responded to nearly 2.5 million calls for service during 2021.

However, committee members heard how the system is failing and putting the lives of Pennsylvania residents at risk.

“Thanks to many factors, now exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19 on transport volume, costs, staffing and more, these financial struggles have become dire,” Donald DeReamus, Ambulance Association of Pennsylvania board member told them. “Our organizations and clinicians are on the brink, just months, weeks, or even days from insolvency.”

Recruitment and retention: Many EMTs are choosing to not renew their certification.  

“The number of EMTs that allow their certifications to expire and ultimately leave the profession continues to outpace those becoming certified,” said Aaron Rhone, Pennsylvania Department of Health Bureau of Emergency Medical Services interim director.

Financial needs: EMS agencies need a universal sustainable funding mechanism.

“Reimbursement fails miserably in covering the cost of readiness as well as the cost of EMS operations,” said DeReamus. “Since 2002, after implementation of the Medicare Ambulance Fee Schedule, costs have risen 70% while reimbursement rates have risen only 27% during the same period.”

Billing constraints: Legislation is needed to provide local governments with the ability to increase fees.

“Amending the statute to allow three mills for EMS and removing the current barriers required to increase the allowable mills for EMS funding to be consistent with the fire service will greatly improve flexibility and provide municipalities with an additional tool to provide EMS services for their communities,” noted Anthony Deaven, Pennsylvania Fire and Emergency Services Institute board member. 

Hospital emergency room protocols: Changes are needed to reduce wait times for EMS crews.

“EMTs and paramedics often wait in a hall with their ambulance patient for several hours until and emergency room charge nurse finally takes custody of the patient and releases the ambulance,” testified West Hempfield Township Manager Andrew Stern. “While the crew is being ‘held hostage,’ they are unavailable to respond to any other emergencies, even if more emergent than the current patient.”

Local government support initiatives: Senate Bill 698 would allow for the creation of countywide public safety authorities.

“Counties recognize and respect the need for local input and decision making and believe Senate Bill 698 protects that autonomy while more efficiently providing for our residents,” said Tioga County Commissioner Mark Hamilton. “To be clear, counties are not seeking to take over the responsibility for EMS.”

COVID-19 challenges: The pandemic has made recruitment and retention efforts more difficult.

“Since COVID-19 began, EMS workers have left the field to seek non-medical careers or employment in different areas of public service,” explained Gary Vinnacombe, West Grove Fire Company EMS manager.

Boback called the four-hour hearing “very informative,” and said the committee will be working on legislative solutions to the EMS crisis.

“It’s clear that our EMS services face multiple challenges that demand our attention and support more than ever,” she concluded.

A video recording of the hearing is available for viewing at

Committee Unanimously Passes Boback Bill Supporting Active Military and Disabled Veteran Hunters and Anglers

Rep. Karen Boback (R-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming) announced that the House Game and Fisheries Committee Unanimously passed and reported her bill, House Bill 490, that seeks to provide reciprocal agreements for our active duty military and disabled veterans hunting and fishing licenses.

“I am thrilled to see the unanimous passage of this bill out of committee,” said Boback. “This bill offers an opportunity to both active duty service members and disabled veterans who are hunters and anglers. It seeks to encourage other states to enter into agreements with Pennsylvania and create and offer great savings to our service members. This will also provide the opportunity to increase attraction to our Commonwealth for more travel from non-resident military sportsmen, offering a much-needed boost to our economy.”

This legislation will allow the Pennsylvania Attorney General to enter into reciprocal agreements with other states to recognize lawfully issued hunting and fishing license or permit types for active duty military and disabled veterans, as resident licenses or permits in each state, provided the Attorney General has determined that the fishing and hunting laws of states are similar to the hunting and fishing laws of our Commonwealth.

This bill has been reported to the House floor as committed.

Boback Announces Virtual Job Fair Available to Service Members and their Families

Rep. Karen Boback (R-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming) announced two upcoming virtual job fairs to help active military members, veterans and their families.

The first was held by the Department of Defense Military Spouse Employment Partnership on Wednesday, March 10, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The second will be held by the Pennsylvania National Guard Associations on Wednesday, March 24, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“These virtual job fairs present an amazing opportunity for those who have served our country and continue to serve, along with their families as well,” said Boback. “I am always honored to help out our veterans and their families in any way I can and sharing this information will hopefully provide individuals with interview and hiring experience.”

The Department of Defense Military Spouse Employment Partnership is hosting its fourth virtual hiring fair for military spouses. The department is committed to ensuring military spouses have the access to education and employment resources to help them thrive in their military life. Providing virtual opportunities and empowering military spouses remains a top priority.

For more information individuals can call 800-342-9647 to speak with a Spouse Education Career Opportunities career coach or visit to register for the event.

The Pennsylvania National Guard Associations (PNGAS) is hosting its virtual job fair for all job seekers, veterans and non-veterans. PNGAS has been helping Guard members, veterans, their spouses, military families, and job seekers get job opportunities. Right now, in the middle of COVID, the PNGAS Job Board has over 2,000 job postings.  

For more information and to register for the event visit

Boback Meets with Stakeholders and Discusses Legislative Priorities

Rep. Karen Boback (R-Lackwanna/Luzerne/Wyoming), majority chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, held informational meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday with agency stakeholders.

“Over the last two days, fellow lawmakers and I heard from our agency stakeholders that affect our veteran and emergency preparedness community,” said Boback. “It was a rather unique opportunity for all of us to her from experts across the veterans affairs and emergency preparedness field. These meetings, while virtual, provide us with the necessary information and keep both new and returning members to this committee up to date with the most current legislative priorities of the organizations and communities we represent and serve.

“I was concerned with the vaccine programs logistics and rollout, which is why I pressed Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) Director Randy Patfield with questions that are important to all of us. In their continued planning and distribution of the vaccination, we need to make sure that counties that have worked so diligently in containing the spread and keeping Pennsylvanians safe are treated fairly. Smaller counties and those that have handled this pandemic properly should be treated equitably in the supplying of the vaccines. While PEMA and the Department of Health coordinate their efforts to make sure Pennsylvanians are safely vaccinated, this committee stands ready to assist them.”

Informational hearings of the committee provided members the opportunity to hear the legislative priorities of stakeholders for the current legislative session. Those present were MG. Mark J. Schindler, acting adjutant general of the PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs; Kathleen Fabrizi, executive director of the PA National Guard Associations; Chad Rettew, chairman of the board for the PA National Guard Associations; Sam Petrovich, chairman of the PA State Veterans Commission; Robert Gray, PA War Veterans Council Legislative Committee chairman of the Military Officers Association of America; Col. Kevin Berry, PA Wing Commander for the PA Civil Air Patrol; Chris Arnold, Northeast Regional Liaison for the Defense – State Liaison Office with the Department of Defense Military Community and Family Policy; Rear Adm. Nancy J. Lescavage, U.S. Navy (Ret.), executive director of the PA Military Community Enhancement Commission; Randy Padfield, director of the PA Emergency Management Agency; Bruce Trego, commissioner of the Office of the State Fire Commissioner; Dylan Ferguson, director of the PA Department of Health, Bureau of EMS; Jerry Ozog, executive director of the PA Fire and Emergency Services Institute; Patricia Waldinger, regional chief executive officer for the Greater Pennsylvania Region of the American Red Cross; Guy Triano, regional chief executive officer for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Region of the American Red Cross; J.T. Pennington, president of the PA Professional Firefighters Association; Tim Leech, vice president of the Pittsburgh Fire Fighters; and Don DeReamus, legislative committee chair of the  Ambulance Association of PA.

Tuesday’s meeting can be viewed here. Wednesday’s meeting can be viewed here.

Boback Reminds 100% Service-Connected Disabled Veterans of Real Estate Tax Exemption

Rep. Karen Boback (R-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, would like to remind veterans who are 100% permanently disabled due to service that they are eligible for an exemption on their real estate tax.

This program provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) offers real estate tax exemption for any honorably discharged veteran who is 100% disabled, has a financial need and is a resident of the Commonwealth.

Veterans may apply for the exemption by contacting the Veterans Affairs director in their county of residence:  

Lackawanna County – Director David Eisele – 570-963-6778 –

Luzerne County – Director Jim Spagnola – 570-706-3960 –

Wyoming County – Director Jack Hubert – 570-996-2258 –

Veteran’s eligibility criteria:

  • Served in the military honorably.
  • Served during established war service dates as determined by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs **The following decorations can also be used to establish wartime service: Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal or Navy Expeditionary Medal.
  • Must have a total or 100% permanent service-connected disability rating by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or as the result of military service the veteran is blind or paraplegic or has sustained the loss of two or more limbs.
  • Must be a resident of the Commonwealth.
  • Must occupy the real estate as his/her principal dwelling.
  • Dwelling is owned solely by the veteran or as an estate in the entirety.

Must prove financial need:

  • Veteran must prove financial need according to the criteria established by the State Veterans Commission if their annual income exceeds $92,594, effective Jan. 1, 2019.
  • Applicants with an annual income of $92,594 or less are given a rebuttable presumption to have a need for the exemption
  • **Upon the death of a qualified veteran, tax exemption may pass on to the unmarried surviving spouse if financial need can be shown.

An exemption for the financial need can be considered when the applicant’s allowable expenses exceed the applicant’s household income. The applicant’s monthly household expenses will be calculated to include a cost of living allowance and dependent’s allowance.

After the DMVA certifies the financial need for an exemption and the eligibility criteria is verified, the county board of assessment and revision of taxes will grant the tax exemption. Cases that have been granted tax exemption will be reviewed periodically to determine continued need for exemption from certain real estate property taxes.

For more information on the real estate tax exemption program or any other state programs and services supporting veterans, visit

Boback Announces Over $6 Million in Federal Funding Awarded to Area School Districts

Rep. Karen Boback (R-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming) has announced additional funding made available to local school districts from the federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CCRSA).

“Ensuring that our students and teachers are provided for has been a priority during this pandemic,” explained Boback. “It is wonderful to see that federal funds were made available to our school districts from this program that plans for and covers those additional expenses sustained due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In the 117th Legislative District, Dallas, Lackawanna Trail, Lake Lehman, Northwest Area and Tunkhannock School Districts all received funding as a part of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER). As part of the federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CCRSA), Congress and the Trump Administration established and appropriated a total of $54.3 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. Funding is distributed to states based on each state’s proportionate share of Title I, Part A (Title I-A) funding. ESSER funds are intended to support COVID-19 response efforts and may be spent on a wide range of allowable activities.  

Pennsylvania’s share of this funding is approximately $2.22 billion, which will be distributed to the state’s school districts and charter schools based on the Title I-A formula.  This funding is on top of the $471 million that was distributed to school districts last year through the CARES Act.

Boback First Woman Appointed Chair of House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee

Rep. Karen Boback (R-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming) has been appointed as the first woman chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee by Speaker Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) for the 2021-22 session. Boback was recently sworn into her eighth term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

“I am proud to be part of a team of strong legislative leaders who support our Commonwealth,” Boback said. “It is my honor to have Speaker Cutler’s and my fellow members’ continued trust and support with the chairmanship of this important standing committee.”

The House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee oversees legislation concerning public safety, emergency planning and preparedness, 911 emergency telephone services, fire and emergency medical services response and training, PA National Guard and military/veterans issues, nuclear power plant safety and response programs, flood response and mitigation programs, hazardous material planning and response, emergency communication systems, and homeland security and safety programs and initiatives.

“In the district, I have made veterans and their needs a priority,” Boback explained. “I have held veterans’ outreach in our offices, as well as organized mobile veterans counseling outreach.”  Boback has held 13 annual veterans’ recognition events and expos. She is also an active member on the Gino J. Merli Veterans’ Center Advisory Council. She has hosted several fire and EMS seminars to keep emergency responders in her district up to date on current emergency services laws and programs. 

In the upcoming legislative session, Boback is eager to work with her colleagues in the House and Senate, as well as all of the stakeholder organizations and state agencies which her committee oversees.

For more information about this committee, or any other state-related issue, contact Boback’s Dallas district office at 570-675-6000 or her Tunkhannock office at 570-836-4777.  Information can also be found on her website at