An important step was taken to ensure small rural hospitals are able to serve their communities for generations to come. (TRT: 1:30) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

SCRIPT:

An important step was taken to ensure small rural hospitals are able to serve their communities for generations to come. Thanks to legislation passed in the Washington State Senate on Monday, Senate bill 5859, will allow small rural hospitals to align state and federal Medicare compensation rates to receive much needed financial relief. The bill’s co-sponsors, Sen. Brian Hatfield of Raymond and Sen. Jim Hargrove of Hoquiam are familiar with this issue and have two hospitals in their district that will benefit as a result.

Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam: (TRT:33) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “This is an extremely important bill to my area, in particular to Grays Harbor, the Olympic Peninsula. It also affects Moses Lake and potentially Centralia. Grays Harbor Hospital and the communities on the coast are an hour, an hour and a half away, um, from the Olympia area and if we did not have a hospital in our area, obviously all of the local EMS services, ambulances would be continually ferrying people to the Olympia area and I think that this would not only be a life threatening issue but it would be a big hit on all our local emergency services also.”

Grays Harbor Community Hospital receives more than 80 percent of its general revenue from Medicaid or other government programs. Hargrove noted that in response to the growing costs, many small rural hospitals have been forced to make difficult cuts, adding that doctors and nurses are already stretched thin, many of them performing duties outside  the scope of their work.

Nicole Vukonich reporting in Olympia.