Harrisburg -- Healthcare workers can expect financial relief following the recent passing of House Bill 253, which received unanimous approval from both the Pennsylvania House and Senate.
The bill allocates funding from federally-provided COVID relief money to support the retaining of current health workers and recruitment of new workers, student loan forgiveness, and a task force to analyze the impact of opioids on children.
A sum of $210 million will be given to hospitals and behavioral health providers for recruitment and retention payments to nurses and other direct patient care personnel, environmental services, and clinical care service employees. An additional $15 million has been allocated to nurse student loan relief.
“Funding and staffing, particularly related to nurses, were among the top challenges cited by our rural health care providers at our hearing, and this initiative would help with both,” State Representative Causer commented following the House vote. “This is a significant step toward helping our hospitals and encouraging new nurses to enter the field to care for patients not only in our hospitals but in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities as well."
“While this is a much-needed investment in the well-being of health care providers and the patients who rely on them, this is just a first step. There is much work to do to address the long-term needs of health care, and particularly rural health care,” he added.
Among the facilities receiving recruitment and retention fund are:
- Bradford Regional Medical Center: $773,364
- Beacon Light Behavioral Health: $262,843
- UPMC Cole: $354,157
- UPMC Kane: $224,059
- UPMC Wellsboro: $281,880
- Penn Highlands Elk: $180,692
- Warren General Hospital: $614,354
Local health care facilities in Bradford County to receive funding include:
- Bradford Recovery Center LLC – $135,802.
- Children’s Center for Treatment and Education – $70,092.
- Robert Packer Hospital – $919,593.
- Robert Packer, Towanda Campus – $59,786.
- Troy Community Hospital – $180,692.
Columbia County will receive $1,084,155 in funding for medical facilities, according to Rep. David Millard. Montour County facilities will receive a little more than $3.7 million; Northumberland County facilities will receive more than $400,000.
Rep. Causer has pointed out that lawmakers are also working on a bill that will give an additional $25 million in funding to EMS and fire companies, which is expected to come to a vote in early February.