HARRISBURG, PA. (Erie News Now) – Help is on the way for the Pennsylvania health care workforce.
On Wednesday, Governor Tom Wolf signed House Bill 253, which provides a big boost to frontline workers battling COVID-19.
In the middle of what many are calling a “partisan gridlock” in Harrisburg, state lawmakers were able to work together on the massive bipartisan accomplishment to alleviate challenges facing Pennsylvania’s health care heroes.
House Bill 253 was signed by Gov. Wolf just a few hours after passing the House Wednesday afternoon.
The bill provides $225 million, from the federal American Rescue Plan, to help hospitals and health care facilities that have been under extreme stress and facing unprecedented staffing-shortages.
$100 million will be distributed to all acute care, critical access, and children’s hospitals licensed by the Department of Health on a per-bed basis. The funding will be used strictly for recruitment and retention payments to direct care staff.
$110 million will be distributed on a per-bed basis to high-Medical Assistance hospitals, designated Critical Access Hospitals, and inpatient and residential behavioral health facilities for recruitment and retention payments to key staff.
Lastly, $15 million will quadruple the funds available for the nurse loan forgiveness program at Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), a program which has already received more than 8,000 applications in advance of the March 1st deadline.
Lawmakers on both sides call it a major win and hope to keep the momentum rolling.
“We know what it takes, and what our nurses, what our doctors, what our medical assistance, what our CMAs have been dealing with, and now for us to be able to stand together in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion and say $225 million has been delivered, we have not ignored the tears, the long hours,” said House Minority Leader, Rep. Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia/Delaware).
“I just look forward to this being a new page here in Harrisburg in 2022,” McClinton added.
“When it comes down to getting something done that needs to be done for the citizens of this commonwealth, we come together,” said Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland).
House Bill 253 also creates the Opioid Abuse Child-Impact-Task Force which will address the safety and well-being of infants and children affected by their parents’ substance abuse disorders.
Leave a Reply