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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: December 18, 2018 10:22 AM
From: Senator Lisa Baker
To: All Senate members
Subject: Addressing Pennsylvania's Rural Hospital Crisis
In recent years, we have heard a great deal about the acute financial challenges afflicting many of our rural hospitals. The communities housing these cornerstone facilities are worried that possible closures will diminish health care access and deal another severe blow to already struggling local economies.

The state Department of Health, in partnership with the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), has developed a substantial Rural Health Program to address critical problems and change the operating climate from one of desperately staving off decline to one of seeking out opportunities. In an effort to implement the Rural Health Program, I introduced SB 1237 last session, which was cosponsored by Senators Schwank, Gordner, Mensch, Argall, Eichelberger, Blake, Hutchinson, Bartolotta, Yaw, Stefano, K. Ward, and Brooks.

The legislation is intended to help by:
  • Creating an annual, prospective budget with regular, predictable payments
  • Improving the ability to develop and carry out expanded and innovative community health services
  • Providing the capacity to pursue programs addressing key needs such as behavioral health and substance abuse and cooperative EMS

Pursuant to the bill, the Rural Health Redesign Center (RHRC), a public-private collaborative entity, will be established to oversee these measures. This effort will be initially funded by a $25 million grant from CMMI. Rural hospitals generally serve a higher concentration of Medicare and Medicaid patients, a chief contributor to the financial problems because of the reimbursement structure and methods. The RHRC will have the capacity to raise funds from other sources, such as foundations.

Rep. Tina Pickett plans to once again introduce a companion bill in the House. I am attaching information providing greater detail about our proposal, and invite your cosponsorship of this important legislation.

View Attachment

Introduced as SB314