Senate Approves Bill to Preserve Access to Ventilator Services

The Senate voted today (April 28) to preserve access to ventilator and tracheostomy care for hundreds of patients in Pennsylvania, according to Senator Dan Laughlin, who co-prime sponsored the measure.

Senate Bill 108 would dedicate additional Medicaid funding to facilities that serve a substantial number of patients who require ventilator or tracheostomy care. Roughly 700 patients in Pennsylvania receive Medicaid-covered ventilator or tracheostomy care in a nursing home in any given month, but that number could climb even higher in the months ahead due to COVID-19.

“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 in the Commonwealth,” said Senator Laughlin. “No one ever imagined this would be the case last session when this bill was initially introduced. However, this pandemic has put an exclamation point on the need to ensure adequate funding is available for ventilator and tracheostomy services in our Commonwealth.”

Medicaid currently does not reimburse providers for all of the additional expenses that ventilator and tracheostomy patients incur, including specialized equipment, supplies and staff costs.

“Many providers, including LECOM at Presque Isle, face the prospect of limiting or eliminating services for these patients. One of the largest providers of these services in Pennsylvania filed for bankruptcy even before the COVID-19 pandemic reached Pennsylvania,” Senator Laughlin said.

Without action to help providers, patients could 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 daily cost of care is roughly four times higher than in a nursing home.

The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.


CONTACT:  Matt Azeles       

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