|Posted:||December 1, 2022 02:31 PM|
|From:||Representative Eddie Day Pashinski and Rep. Jennifer O'Mara|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Hospital Closure Reform|
|When hospitals close their doors, they significantly impact Pennsylvania communities, often leading to a corresponding decline in community services, economic growth, and development, and of course, overall public health and wellness. It is estimated that one hospital closure, on average, results in approximately $13 million in lost tax revenue for an impacted county. And the human toll can be far greater for vulnerable populations like the elderly, children, those with medical issues or health challenges, and low-income residents who almost always bear the brunt of the burden that comes with disruptions in access to care.
In recent years, sudden hospital closures have occurred in rural, suburban, and urban communities across the Commonwealth, straining healthcare access for families, workers, and our aging population. The recent announcements of closures impacting First Hospital in Luzerne County and hospital systems in Southeastern Pennsylvania have left residents and public officials searching for answers to a litany of questions like: where will patients receive critical care? How will ambulance companies and emergency professionals manage their jobs? And what can we do to prevent this from happening again?
That is why we will be re-introducing companion legislation with Senator Carolyn Comitta which aims to offer solutions and prevent communities from being left in the lurch when hospitals abruptly decide to leave town. First, our legislation doubles the time in which a hospital system must notify state and local agencies of a planned closure from 90 to 180 days. In addition, it also establishes more comprehensive standards for procedure and notification of a planned closure. It includes requirements for an approved Closing Plan and Health Equity Impact Assessment to be submitted to the Department of Health. Finally, it calls for increased community input, data collection, public comment, and public hearings prior to closure.
An unexpected, often profit-driven decision to shutter a hospital can have a profound destabilizing influence across an entire region, including on neighboring hospitals and healthcare providers, especially in the era of COVID-19. Our bill aims to ensure that hospitals that plan to close give local and state agencies the time, information, and opportunity they need to adequately address these significant impacts and plan for related challenges.
Like doctors and those in the medical community, hospitals have a duty to “first do no harm.” This bill aims to help ensure they fully meet their commitment to the community – a community that must be supported and empowered to seek other options and solutions in the wake of a hospital closure.
Please join us in co-sponsoring this critical legislation to ensure that Pennsylvanians can receive uninterrupted care and our hospital systems honor their duty to their patients, staff, and the communities they serve.
Introduced as HB158