Committee Approves Measure to Preserve Access to Ventilator Services

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee today (March 23) approved a measure that will preserve access to ventilator and tracheostomy care for hundreds of patients, according to Senator Dan Laughlin, who is a prime co-sponsor of the measure.

Senate Bill 108, which now goes to the full Senate for consideration, would dedicate additional Medicaid funding to facilities that serve a substantial number of patients who require ventilator or tracheostomy care.

“The new reality of a Pennsylvania engaged in a war against COVID-19 has only amplified the need to maintain – if not increase – the availability of ventilator care,” said Senator Laughlin. “This pandemic has put an exclamation point on the need to ensure adequate funding is available for ventilator and tracheostomy services.”

Hundreds of patients currently receive Medicaid-covered ventilator or tracheostomy care in a nursing home in any given month. However, Medicaid currently does not reimburse providers for all the additional expenses that ventilator and tracheostomy patients incur, including specialized equipment, supplies and staff costs.

Many providers face the prospect of limiting or eliminating services and patients would be forced to travel long distances to one of the dwindling number of nursing homes that offer these services, or receive care in a hospital, where the costs are substantially higher than in a nursing home.

“Over the past ten years, Medicaid payments for ventilator and tracheostomy services have declined, and it’s time we start to take care of, what I consider, some of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens,” Senator Laughlin said. “We are at a critical juncture and we will soon have a crisis on our hands if we don’t properly fund this type of care.”

Contact:         Matt Azeles

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