A Senate Bill has been submitted into the State Legislature that could ease the financial troubles of Grays Harbor Community Hospital, as well as other sole community hospitals within the state.
Senate Bill 6601 was released on Tuesday and is sponsored by 24th District Senator Kevin Van De Wege, 19th District Senator Dean Takko, and 13th District Senator Judy Warnick.
The bill is bipartisan, with Van De Wege and Takko both Democrats, and Warnick a Republican.
The bill would amend current RCW codes to increase reimbursement for the hospitals from 125% of the hospitals fee-for-service rate to 150%.
Speaking with Senator Warnick, she told KXRO that the issues in Grays Harbor are not unlike those east of the mountains;
As described by Grays Harbor Community Hospital staff to KXRO, currently the hospital receives approximately 40% reimbursement on procedures paid for under government medical. This change could increase that to an approximate 60% reimbursement rate.
GHCH CEO Tom Jensen has told KXRO that the number of patients using these government medical plans, such as Medicare/Medicaid, equates to around 80% of the total visits. This is what the hospital refers to as their “payer mix”.
The Senate Bill would go into effect on July 1, 2018 if approved.
Jensen told KXRO that the local hospital would not see immediate funding changes.
This bill would only impact hospitals that have been certified as a “sole community hospital”, and met criteria at certain years. This includes having a level III adult trauma service designation, and less than 150 acute care licensed beds.
This bill is similar, but not as stringent as House Bill 2732, co-sponsored by 24th District Representative Mike Chapman. That proposed bill was designed for “critical access” hospitals and featured other requirements.
Speaking to Representative Chapman about his bill, he reiterated that the financial issues with Grays Harbor are tied to the payments
The new Senate Bill was referred to the Health & Long Term Care Committee.
No meetings are currently scheduled for that committee, although the bill could still be passed as an addition to the budget in this session.
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