Healthy Me PA has been at the forefront of encouraging state legislators and the governor to maintain funding for Pennsylvania’s critical access hospitals, obstetric and neonatal intensive care units, burn centers, and trauma centers. The efforts have been successful the last several years, but it’s time for more than maintaining the status quo on these medical assistance supplemental payments.
These facilities provide lifesaving care across Pennsylvania. This funding has not seen any meaningful increases for almost 10 years, yet the cost of providing these specialized services continues to rise.
Policymakers need to increase the funding by 50 percent to restore cuts from previous years—which also would increase federal matching funds—and ensure that these vital facilities remain open to treat our most vulnerable patients.
Here’s a snapshot of the care these facilities provide:
Pennsylvania’s 41 trauma centers offer 24-hour availability of specially trained health care provider teams—trauma, orthopedic and cardiac surgeons, neurosurgeons, radiologists, and nurses—with expertise in caring for severely injured patients. Their patients suffer life-threatening injuries, often as a result of motor vehicle crashes, burns, or gunshot wounds.
Critical access hospitals
Pennsylvania had 15 federally designated critical access hospitals as of February 2020. Hospitals are the key provider of health care in rural areas throughout Pennsylvania, where they act as anchors for a broad range of health and human services in their communities. They also are major contributors to the local economy, and most are among the largest employers in their counties.
Their financial situations are often more tenuous than other hospitals because they have limited resources and their patients often are lower-income with multiple medical needs.
Obstetrics and neonatal services
Pregnant women in many parts of Pennsylvania face diminished access to obstetrical care partly because 52 hospital obstetrical units have closed since 2000. Medical assistance funded about 40 percent of all 2018 births in Pennsylvania, and it is the most important source of financing for the cost of care provided to infants born prematurely or with medical problems.
The obstetrical and neonatal supplemental funding impacts about 60 Pennsylvania hospitals that ensure access to appropriate prenatal, obstetrics, and postpartum and neonatal services.
Pennsylvania’s seven burn centers care for highly complex problems and vulnerable patients. Medical treatments include wound care, skin grafts, and reconstructive surgery. The centers receive additional payments from the Department of Human Services to help with extremely high-cost cases but still face financial challenges given the specialty care they are called upon to provide.
The state budget is finalized in June. There’s no time to waste in convincing state officials of the need. Please join Healthy Me PA in contacting your lawmakers and asking for their commitment to increase funding for these very special facilities. It is critical that Pennsylvania’s hospitals remain financially stable to continue to provide high-quality care to the communities they serve.