ISSAQUAH - Congresswoman Kim Schrier has introduced legislation to help rural hospitals as the COVID-19 pandemic puts more of a burden on local health care systems.
“Rural hospitals play a critical role in our health care system to ensure everyone has access to care,” Rep. Schrier stated. “Right now, they are facing unprecedented challenges and urgently need the resources to respond. This bipartisan legislation will get the funding needed to support rural hospitals and providers that are on the frontline of this pandemic. We cannot lose our rural hospitals.
The “Immediate Relief for Rural Facilities and Providers Act of 2020,” sponsored by both Schrier and Republican Tennessee Congressman Phil Roe, would relief to rural hospitals to address COVID-19 with emergency mandatory grants to Critical Access Hospitals and Rural Prospective Payment System hospitals to stabilize loss of revenue.
“My hospitals and others around the state are making significant investments to prepare for the COVID-19 crisis,” stated Julie Petersen, CEO of Kittitas Valley Healthcare in Ellensburg. “Unfortunately, we are ill-equipped to handle the costs associated with this work. Rep. Schrier’s bill provides badly-needed resources as we work to meet our community’s health needs in this deadly crisis.”
Specifically, the legislation will:
- Provide Immediate Relief for Rural Hospitals with an emergency mandatory one-time grant to Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) and rural Prospective Payment System (PPS) hospitals equaling $1,000 per patient per day.
- Provide Stabilization for Rural Hospitals with a one-time, emergency grant for CAH and rural PPS hospitals equaling the total reimbursement received for services for the first three months of 2019 to stabilize the loss of revenue.
- Encourage Hospital Coordination with a 20% increase in Medicare reimbursement for any patient in a rural hospital using the swing bed program to incentivize freeing up capacity in larger, overcrowded hospitals.
- Provide Stabilization and Relief for Providers with an emergency, one-time grant for all providers and ambulatory surgery centers equal to their total payroll from January 1 - April 1, 2019.
- Provide Funding for Physicians and Providers by authorizing the Small Business Administration to provide low interest loans to providers and ambulatory surgery centers at a 0.25% interest rate that will not accrue until two years after the COVID-19 pandemic has ended