Rural Hospital Initiative Seeks To Prevent Closures, Support Communities

To hear Sen. Baker’s remarks on the bill: Listen 

HARRISBURG – There has been a great deal of discussion about the financial challenges facing many of our rural hospitals. A new initiative could offer some relief for facilities struggling to keep the doors open.

“Rural hospital closures would diminish health care access and would have a devastating economic impact,” said Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20th). “Our communities are understandably worried.”

Approximately 30 of Pennsylvania’s 42 rural hospitals are currently at risk, as many are caught between the demand for high-cost services and low reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid.

The state Department of Health has responded to this emergency by developing a Rural Health Program to offer the support these hospitals need to be successful. A bill sponsored by Sen. Baker to implement the plan was passed by the Senate last week.

Specifically, Baker’s legislation would create the Rural Health Redesign Center to develop a more predictable payment plan and create a fixed budget to stabilize reimbursements. Support would also be provided to offer new community health services and programs to meet key needs such as behavioral health and substance abuse. It would be funded by a $25 million grant from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, as well as funds from private sources moving forward.

The Hospital and Health System Association of Pennsylvania welcomes the assistance.

“Pennsylvania is among the most rural states in the union, and its rural hospitals face unique challenges that include barriers to access to care, clinical shortages, and unreliable funding sources,” said Andy Carter, the association’s president and chief executive officer. “This is an important step forward in helping rural hospitals achieve the financial stability that is required to adapt to the changing needs of the communities they serve.”

Sara F. Adornato, the chief executive officer at Barnes-Kasson County Hospital in Susquehanna Depot is excited and encouraged by the goals to be accomplished for rural health and rural communities working with the Rural Health Redesign Center.

“If we can provide a more predictable revenue stream, we will be able to concentrate on the delivery of health care in our communities, focusing on quality and preventive care, as well as assessing and responding to the unique needs of the communities we serve,” she said.

David L. Hoff, chief executive office of Wayne Memorial Hospital and Health System in Honesdale believes the legislation is a positive development.

“We are pleased to hear of the Senate action,” he said. “Wayne Memorial Hospital is seriously considering participation, which puts renewed financial emphasis on keeping a rural community healthy.”

The bill now moves to the House where Rep. Tina Pickett (R-110th) has introduced companion legislation.


To hear Sen. Baker’s remarks on the bill: 


Andrew M. Seder
District Communications/Constituent Services for Pike and Wayne Counties
Office of Senator Lisa Baker
2512 Route 6, Suite 3
Hawley, PA  18428
(570) 226-5960

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