Dallas – For rural areas of Pennsylvania, critical access hospitals are just what the name suggests, a health care lifeline in smaller communities. Two of the thirteen federally-designated hospitals serve patients in Sen. Lisa Baker’s district – Barnes Kasson Hospital and Endless Mountains Health Systems, both in Susquehanna County.
Unfortunately, state funding for these vital institutions was recently vetoed by Governor Tom Wolf. Senator Baker and community leaders are deeply concerned because the loss of funding hurts services and could put these hospitals at risk. At least one of the facilities has already been forced to implement cuts in staffing. The situation is dire enough that a resolution cannot await another attempt at a settlement on the state budget.
Baker has introduced a separate bill to restore $5.676 million in state funding, which is run through the state Department of Human Services. “There should be no dispute over the justification for this funding or the value it has in improving health and saving lives. Putting this money back in the budget is a thoroughly responsible move, from a health care quality and access standpoint and from a financial one,” she pointed out. She intends to push for quick Senate action.
“The veto of this money was driven by politics, not fiscal necessity. This relatively small item is by no means a budget-breaker, and restoring it does not put the budget out of balance. This is money that enjoys strong legislative support because of how important it is to keeping these vital health care services in place. The veto was an ill-advised and harmful move we must reverse,” Baker concluded.