Senate Passes New Funding for Hospitals, Direct Payments to Health Care Workers

HARRISBURG – The state Senate approved critical funding for hospitals and frontline health care workers who continue to keep Pennsylvanians safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Senate Appropriations Chairman Pat Browne.

House Bill 253 would allocate a total of $225 million to hospitals. The bill was unanimously approved by the Senate on Tuesday (January 25) and is scheduled to be considered by the House of Representatives today (January 26).

The additional dollars will be allocated as follows:

  • $100 million for acute care general hospitals;
  • $110 million for critical access hospitals, facilities with a high volume of Medicaid patients, and behavioral/psychiatric providers of inpatient services;
  • $15 million for the PA Student Loan Relief for Nurses Program.

Under this legislation, all hospitals that provide inpatient medical care will receive funding that must be used for making retention or recruitment payments directly to hospital staff. Hospital executives and administration, contracted staff, and physicians would not be eligible for direct payments under the bill; the funding would only be directed to nurses and other hospital employees.

“Few have faced as many difficult challenges during this pandemic as the dedicated individuals on the front lines in our health care system and those serving as our emergency responders,” Senator Browne said. “They have endlessly provided critical care, aid and treatment to our fellow citizens afflicted with this virus. The allocation of this funding represents an effort to support the devotion they continue to demonstrate as well as to ensure our health care facility and emergency medical service providers have additional resources available to retain and attract personnel in Pennsylvania as they have faced tremendous staffing shortages during this crisis.”

The Lehigh Valley’s health systems will receive:

  • Easton Manor
    • Critical Access/ Behavioral Health Hospital Funding: $179,610
  • Kids Peace
    • Critical Access/ Behavioral Health Hospital Funding: $1,379,927
  • Lehigh Valley Health Network
    • Acute Care General Hospital Aid: $10,653,585
  • Lehigh County Center for Recovery
    • Critical Access/ Behavioral Health Hospital Funding: $105,137
  • New Vitae Wellness and Recovery Center
    • Critical Access/ Behavioral Health Hospital Funding: $70,092
  • Luke’s Hospital Network
    • Acute Care General Hospital Aid: $8,284,689
    • Critical Access/ Behavioral Health Hospital Funding: $83,234
  • Step by Step, Inc.
    • Critical Access/ Behavioral Health Hospital Funding: $35,046

“We at Lehigh Valley Health Network, thank the entire state house and senate for their leadership and wisdom in working with The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) to understand the severity of the health care staffing crisis,” Brian Nester, President and CEO of Lehigh Valley Health Network said. “This critical funding will allow us to recruit, retain and recognize our essential health care workers and ensure a health care workforce in the future. This legislative support will honor and recognize those who have stepped up and relentlessly provided care during our community’s greatest time of need and will help us create the robust workforce necessary to meet the unprecedented urgency to keep our friends, families and neighbors throughout Eastern Pennsylvania – and the entire state – healthy, safe and protected.”

The Legislation also provides additional funding for the PA Student Loan Relief for Nurses Program, which aims to attract and retain talented young nurses in the commonwealth through student loan debt forgiveness.

After concurrence by the House of Representatives, the bill is expected to be presented to the governor for his approval later today (January 26).

This Morning’s House and Senate Leadership Press Conference can be viewed here: https://pasen.wistia.com/medias/vxmmvdyo50

Senator Browne’s comments on the Floor of the Senate in support of the bill can be viewed here: https://pasen.wistia.com/medias/agtag03fps

CONTACT: Matt Moyer (717-787-1349), mmoyer@pasen.gov