The Kentucky Home voted Friday to create a mortgage program to supply struggling rural hospitals with money transfusions lawmakers hope will spark a monetary turnaround.
Hospitals in counties with fewer than 50,000 folks can be eligible for the loans. Greater than 60 hospitals qualify beneath that definition, and greater than a dozen are thought-about “susceptible to closure,” mentioned Republican Rep. Danny Bentley, the invoice’s lead sponsor.
These hospitals are an important a part of a neighborhood’s lifeblood, not solely offering healthcare however serving as a key employer, he mentioned.
“In the event that they shut the agricultural hospital on us, they’re going to by no means reopen them,” Bentley mentioned. “So we have got to be involved.”
The invoice cleared the Home on an 80-Zero vote and now goes to the Senate. Its cosponsors embody Home Speaker David Osborne, who mentioned funding for the mortgage program may come from the issuance of bonds. The state financial improvement cupboard would administer the mortgage program.
The measure’s progress follows the current announcement that Our Woman of Bellefonte Hospital in northeastern Kentucky will shut later this 12 months. The closure of the hospital, which serves a struggling area of Appalachia, will have an effect on about 1,000 workers.
Underneath the invoice, hospitals receiving the loans may use the cash on amenities, staffing or to increase medical companies. The financial improvement cupboard would decide the phrases of every mortgage. Struggling hospitals in search of the loans would submit plans to perform a enterprise turnaround.
Osborne mentioned cash for the mortgage program may turn into out there as quickly as this 12 months if the invoice turns into legislation. It has an emergency clause permitting it to take impact instantly upon the governor’s signature. It is too quickly to find out how a lot cash is likely to be wanted, he mentioned.
“It is the aim to assist turnarounds when turnarounds are doable,” Osborne informed reporters. “That does not imply that we will save each hospital that’s failing, identical to we will not save each enterprise that is failing. However there are some, when given the chance, that may succeed and that is our aim is to attempt to assist these that may.”
The Home lately handed one other invoice that might give the College of Louisville a $35 million mortgage to help its acquisition of Jewish Hospital and different KentuckyOne Well being amenities within the state’s largest metropolis. That measure is awaiting motion within the Senate.
Osborne mentioned Friday that work on crafting the agricultural hospital mortgage program was an outgrowth of discussions concerning the UofL-related measure.
“A number of folks expressed some issues about what are we going to do about rural hospitals that had been struggling a lot,” the speaker mentioned.