New law written by Representative Tharinger could help rural hospitals

House Bill 1520, sponsored by 24th Legislative District Senator Steve Tharinger, will allow rural hospitals participating in a pilot program to “explore new, innovative approaches to health care services. It also gives those hospitals the security they need to return to their current status as critical access hospitals if the pilot program doesn’t work for their community.”

“In rural Washington, hospitals are the foundation that health care is built upon,” said Rep. Tharinger. “This legislation will maintain payments for Critical Access Hospital essential services, such as emergency  and primary care, while they innovate and transition to quality and value rather than strictly volume.”

In the bill, it allows rural hospitals within the pilot program to base their payment methods on “quality and value, rather than volume” in an attempt to “provide sufficient funding to sustain essential services in the areas served.”

“This is a vital issue in timber and farm country,” Rep. Tharinger said. “In cities and suburbs, you have a number of different hospitals to choose from. In the rest of the state, there is often a single hospital that an entire region relies upon. This legislation is about helping those rural hospitals stay strong so families who rely on them can stay healthy.”

The bill passed the House and Senate, and Gov. Jay Inslee recently signed House Bill 1520 into law.


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