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Rural hospitals get assistance through Senate bill

February 18, 2014

An important step was taken to ensure small rural hospitals are able to serve their communities for generations to come. Thanks to legislation passed in the Washington State Senate on Monday, Senate bill 5859, will allow small rural hospitals to align state and federal Medicare compensation rates to receive much needed financial relief. The bill’s co-sponsors, Sen. Brian Hatfield of Raymond and Sen. Jim Hargrove of Hoquiam are familiar with this issue and have two hospitals in their district that will benefit as a result.

“This is an extremely important bill to my area, in particular to Grays Harbor, the Olympic Peninsula. It also affects Moses Lake and potentially Centralia. Grays Harbor Hospital and the communities on the coast are an hour, an hour and a half away, um, from the Olympia area and if we did not have a hospital in our area, obviously all of the local EMS services, ambulances would be continually ferrying people to the Olympia area and I think that this would not only be a life threatening issue but it would be a big hit on all our local emergency services also.”

Grays Harbor Community Hospital receives 72% of its revenue from Medicaid or other government programs. Hargrove noted that in response to the growing costs, many small rural hospitals have been forced to make difficult cuts, adding that doctors and nurses are already stretched thin, many of them performing duties outside the scope of their work.

Hargrove noted that in response to the growing costs, many small rural hospitals have been forced to make difficult cuts, adding that doctors and nurses are already stretched thin, many of them performing duties outside of the scope of their job duties.

“By moving this legislation forward, we not only ensure our citizens will have access to a quality hospital, we also retain jobs,” Hargrove said. “There are nearly 650 people working at Grays Harbor Hospital. These are good, middle-class wage jobs; we need to protect these people and keep them working.”

In January, CEO Tom Jenson said, “The current Medicaid reimbursement is less than the cost for services provided”, Jenson said in the statement that this bill, “will ensure our long term viability as an organization and safeguard essential quality care in our Community for generations to come.”

Passage of this bill, and another in the House, would create a “Sole Community Hospital” designation to assist rural health facilities. The hospital says that without the designation, Grays Harbor Community Hospital may be required to eliminate additional jobs.

GHCH

Categories: Harbor News
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