HARRISBURG – Senate and House Republican leaders highlighted critical funding today that will be directed to hospitals and frontline health care workers who continue to keep Pennsylvanians safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
House Bill 253 would allocate a total of $225 million to hospitals and their employees. The bill was approved by the Senate on Tuesday and is scheduled to be considered by the House of Representatives today.
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.
The legislation requires the funding to be directed to retention and recruitment programs for staff. Hospital executives and administration, contracted staff, and physicians would not be eligible for payments under the bill; the funding would only be directed to nurses and other hospital employees.
Senate Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte)
“This bill recognizes the important role of our health care heroes in meeting the needs of patients in our communities throughout the Commonwealth. Employee shortages and staff burnout are two of the biggest challenges facing our hospitals today. It is critical for us to make sure our best and brightest frontline workers have the tools and incentives to continue their lifesaving work.”
Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster)
“The steps we are taking today are a continuation of the efforts our caucus has made to prioritize front line workers throughout the pandemic. There has never been a remote work option for our health care and EMS heroes, they continue to make sacrifices to help our communities recover and heal. I want to thank those who have selflessly answered the call to help for months on end and hope the steps we are taking today continue to bring us closer to ending the COVID-19 crisis.”
Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland)
“Delivering on a promise to the people of Pennsylvania, the General Assembly took a significant step towards managing out of the COVID-19 pandemic today by making a strategic investment in supporting our hospitals and frontline health care works. These dedicated nurses, who are exhausted and beaten down, have seen us through our darkest days as their facilities are stress to the max. This funding will help lessen the impact of the pandemic’s effect on our frontline workers by helping our hospitals to retain acute nursing staff and take care of their patients as these facilities are stressed to the max.”
House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin)
“For the last two years, our front-line health care workers and emergency services personnel have literally given their all to keep Pennsylvanians safe from COVID-19. Time and again, they have been asked to give more of themselves than they have ever felt possible. It is clear that this funding package will do a lot of good by getting resources to those facilities fighting this pandemic on the front lines while providing resources to bolster staff at Pennsylvania’s health care facilities, help nurses deal with the burdens of student debt, and setting up the delivery of resources to fire and EMS providers.”
Senate Appropriations Chair Pat Browne (R-Lehigh)
“Few have faced as many difficult challenges during this pandemic as the dedicated individuals on the front lines in our health care system. 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 facilities have additional resources available to retain and attract personnel in Pennsylvania as they have faced tremendous staffing shortages during this crisis.”
Representative Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter)
“Investing in our hospitals – and especially critical access hospitals serving rural communities like the ones I represent – is vitally important to protecting the public health, not only during pandemic times but all the time. Investing in our nurses is equally important as they provide care, comfort, and companionship to patients in hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities at some of the most challenging times in those patients’ lives.”
Here is what a few Pennsylvania Health Care networks have to say:
Allegheny Health Network (ANH)
“Words cannot express how incredibly grateful we are to the frontline caregivers within our organization, and across the state and country, for their courage, resilience and unwavering commitment to patients and community service during this unprecedented public health crisis. Today, our Pennsylvania state senators and representatives took a significant and important step with funding that will help us recognize these true heroes of the pandemic through our staff retention and recruitment efforts. On behalf of AHN and Highmark Health, we thank and applaud our state leaders for recognizing those who are making a difference in the health of our communities at this challenging time and for their steadfast support of our organization and its mission throughout the crisis.”
- Donald Whiting, MD, Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Chief Medical Officer
- Claire Zangerle, AHN’s Chief Nurse Executive.
“We are very appreciative of those in the Pennsylvania legislature who are aware of the financial pressures hospitals are facing and once again are providing financial support as we enter the third year of this pandemic. Pennsylvania’s hospital industry has experienced enormous inflationary pressure on salaries and wages of clinical staff due to unprecedented demand for health care services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Financial support from the Commonwealth to aid in these inflationary pressures is greatly appreciated and will enable hospitals to continue the fight against COVID-19.”
- Carol Fox, Chief Medical Officer, Excela Health
“This pandemic has taken its toll on health care workers both personally and professionally, and as an organization we have worked diligently to help our employees through these unprecedented circumstances. Health care workers need our collective support right now, and we’re grateful the General Assembly has recognized the incredible challenges they continue to experience now, two years into this deadly pandemic, by providing this assistance when our health care heroes need it most.”
- Janet Tomcavage, MSN, RN; Executive Vice President, Chief Nursing Executive, Geisinger
Lehigh Valley Hospital
“We at Lehigh Valley Health Network, thank the entire state house and senate for their leadership and wisdom in working with the Hospital and Health System Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) to understand the severity of the health care staffing crisis. 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.”
- Brian Nester, DO, MBA, President and CEO of LVHN
“For the past two years, our frontline workers have worked tirelessly to ensure that the communities we care for can count on our hospitals. We thank legislative leaders and the Governor for their willingness to work together to address the current challenges facing hospitals and for acknowledging the contributions of our health care heroes.”
- PJ Brennan, M.D., Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President, Penn Medicine
Penn State Health
“On behalf of Penn State Health and its thousands of frontline workers who have tirelessly cared for patients since the start of the pandemic, I would like to thank the members of the House and Senate for passing HB 253. This measure will provide, among other things, much needed funding to help our hospitals in Dauphin, Cumberland and Berks counties address severe workforce shortages while allowing us to offer incentives and recruit and retain top talent. Further, by supporting the Pennsylvania Student Loan Relief for Nurses Program, it will help us to replace nurses who have left the profession in recent years. This action by the General Assembly is a much-needed lifeline for hospitals and behavioral health facilities.”
- Deborah Addo, Executive Vice president and Chief Operating Officer,
Penn State Health.
“We commend the members of the Pennsylvania House and Senate for passing this critical legislation to support the health care workforce and we appreciate their recognition of hospitals that depend upon Medicaid to keep their operations running. Pennsylvania is fortunate to have a legislature that understands the complexity of health care delivery and is sensitive to our workers who are relentless in providing compassionate care.”
- Michael A. Young, President and CEO Temple University Health System
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
“This is a meaningful way to recognize our caregivers who responded with compassion, with commitment and with their hearts to help us through unprecedented times. Each of these dedicated caregivers navigated their own family and childcare challenges and responsibilities, while being faced with such high levels of patient acuity yet they, without exception, focused on our patients. We applaud the Pennsylvania House and Senate leaders and members of the General Assembly who have committed themselves to this type of recognition for caregivers – the true health care heroes – across our state. It makes me proud to be a nurse in Pennsylvania.”
- Holly Lorenz, UPMC Chief Nurse Executive
“In recent weeks, WellSpan Health has cared for our highest number of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients at one time since the start of the pandemic. Each of our six acute-care hospitals have been operating well over our 100% capacity. We’ve delayed elective procedures, activated emergency response plans and created nearly 200 new flex beds across our system to meet the surge in demand. Our patients have endured long wait times in emergency departments and our care teams are exhausted.
“Several weeks ago, we and others reached out to leaders of the Pennsylvania General Assembly to collaboratively discuss solutions to this crisis. They have responded and the proposals announced today will provide critical assistance to our frontline care teams and help them continue providing timely, compassionate and life-saving service to the patients who come to us for care. We thank the General Assembly for its support and leadership at this unprecedented time.”
- John Porter, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer
Jason Thompson (Corman)
Mike Straub (Cutler)
Erica Clayton Wright (Ward)
Jason Gottesman (Benninghoff)
Matt Moyer (Browne)