Bill aiding rural hospitals signed into law

Published 12:40 pm Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Gov. Andy Beshear formally signed into law legislation to aid Kentucky hospitals, especially rural ones, by expanding the Medicaid Hospital Rate Improvement Program during a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda on Monday.

The measure, House Bill 75, expands the program to include $1.8 billion in federal funding for outpatient care as well as inpatient care.  Medicare and Medicaid patients together represent more than 70% of the coverage for patients in rural hospitals.  The Hospital Rate Improvement Program, or HRIP, allows the state to draw down federal funds to pay a supplemental Medicaid payment to Kentucky hospitals; hospitals then pay an assessment to fund the state match.

“Today, we are once again showing support for our hospitals and the critical care they provide to our families,” Beshear said during the ceremony.  “I know these last few years have not been easy.  We stood with our healthcare heroes while they faced a pandemic, one came to take as many lives as it could.  And our hospitals and our healthcare providers fought back.  You and your teams did incredible work during the pandemic, and we are grateful.”

Rep. Brandon Reed, R-Hodgenville, was the main sponsor of HB 75, along with Rep. Danny Bentley, R-Russell.

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“Hospitals across the Commonwealth have faced seemingly nonstop hardships, especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Reed stated.  “This measure will be integral in stabilizing the finances of all of our healthcare facilities, especially hospitals in rural Kentucky.”

HB 75 is an effort to assist hospitals facing closure in the state, as 38% of facilities are in jeopardy of shutting down.

“It is important to note that this comes at no expense to our state budget,” Bentley noted. “This funding comes directly through programs offered by the federal government and will go directly to the hospitals.”

The measure took effect immediately upon the Governor signing it, due to an emergency clause that was included in the legislation.