Alluding to Fetterman, Senator Proposes Requiring Officials to Notify Pennsylvania Executive and Legislature of Health Emergencies

State Senator David Argall (R-Mahanoy City) last week proposed a rule that Pennsylvania’s statewide elected officials must disclose urgent medical conditions to the governor and legislative leaders.

He indirectly mentioned the most recent example of a statewide elected official who apparently neglected to disclose a life-threatening condition: Lt. Governor John Fetterman (D). Now a candidate for the U.S. Senate to replace the retiring Republican Pat Toomey, Fetterman suffered a stroke four days before the May 17 primary. 

The lieutenant governor’s stroke was treated and quickly reversed. Three weeks later, he released a statement noting that the problem did not arise “out of nowhere.” An accompanying statement from his cardiologist, Dr. Ramesh Chandra, noted that he first saw Fetterman in 2017 at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center East to address swelling in the patient’s feet. After an examination, Chandra diagnosed Fetterman with “atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm, along with a decreased heart pump.” 

Argall’s memorandum asking colleagues to co-sponsor his proposed law alluded to this as an example of a condition about which the commonwealth’s General Assembly leaders and chief executive should have known. The legislation would require all five officials subject to statewide election (i.e., governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, auditor general and state treasurer) to notify the governor as well as the respective majority and minority caucus leaders of both legislative chambers when an urgent health matter “would result in the inability to perform the official duties of the office for longer than one week.”

“We have recently seen chaotic circumstances arise when our statewide elected officials withheld potentially debilitating diagnoses from the public,” Argall wrote. “It is my hope to prevent these uncertainties in the future.”

Doctors treating Fetterman implanted a pacemaker with a defibrillator into his heart. He has taken time off from campaigning as he recovers while relaying that he is doing well in his convalescence.

Chandra’s statement reported that he and Fetterman have planned an appointment in six months to follow up on the medication, diet, and exercise regimen the doctor has prescribed. Provided the lieutenant governor adheres to medical advice, Chandra said, Fetterman will “be fine.” 

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Pennsylvania Daily Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “David Argall” by Senator David G. Argall. Photo “John Fetterman” by Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. Background Photo “Pennsylvania State Capitol” by Kumar Appaiah. CC BY-SA 2.0.

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