March 6, 2014 -
Over the weekend, the Washington State House of Representatives Appropriations Committee approved the Sole Community Hospital bill (Senate Bill 5859). It is now up for a full House vote. The Bill is sponsored by Rep. Steve Tharinger and Rep. Kevin Van De Wege.
In February, the bill passed the Senate 47-1, with sponsorship by Senator James Hargrove.
"We have tremendous support for this bill and are encouraged to see it moving along in Olympia; however, we still have hard work ahead of us to get it fully approved by the House,” says Eric Lewis, chief executive officer, Olympic Medical Center. "All of our local representatives work hard for rural health care, and Senator Hargrove, Rep. Van De Wege, and Rep. Tharinger have made a tremendous effort on this particular bill.”
Olympic Medical Center is seeking participation from the community to email these House representatives to encourage them to strongly support Sole Community Hospital legislation. More information, a sample message, along with links to the contact forms for the representatives, can be found at www.OlympicMedical.org and clicking on the "Legislative Advocacy” button.
About the Sole Community Hospital Bill (SB 5859)
If successful, the Sole Community Hospital bill would result in a 25% increase in reimbursement for Medicaid outpatient services. Specifically, the bill would raise reimbursement from 55% of the cost of care to approximately 70% of cost – a reimbursement increase of approximately $ 1 million to Olympic Medical Center annually. This bill seeks to benefit struggling Grays Harbor Community Hospital in Aberdeen as well, which has a significant Medicaid-covered population.
The primary goal of this bill is to protect the community – specifically the most fragile residents, the elderly and the needy. Sole Community Hospitals such as Olympic Medical Center serve these most vulnerable citizens, helping them avoid the expense and challenges of traveling long distances to receive care. Olympic Medical also employs more than 1,100 people and is by all measure the largest economic contributor to the Clallam County economy.
Olympic Medical Center (Clallam County Public Hospital District No. 2) is a comprehensive, award-winning health care provider for more than 70,000 residents of Clallam County. It has served the community since its establishment on Nov. 1, 1951, and is governed by a seven-member, publicly elected board. Olympic Medical is a sole community hospital and rural referral center, and a charter member of both the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (2003) and the Swedish Health Network (2011). Olympic Medical provides inpatient services at its 80-bed acute-care facility in Port Angeles, including a level-three trauma designated emergency department, surgical services, and labor and delivery. OMC’s outpatient services include cardiac, imaging, physical therapy and rehabilitation, laboratory, sleep medicine, surgical services, home health, physician clinics and comprehensive regional cancer care at locations in Port Angeles and Sequim.