PA Representative Martin Causer votes to support rural healthcare

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Pennsylvania lawmakers voted for the measure to boost direct-care pay and forgive nursing school student debt

HARRISBURG – On the heels of a legislative hearing about the challenges facing rural health care, Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint) today voted for a bill that would provide $225 million in funding to support the state’s health care workers and encourage new nurses to enter the field.

A total of $210 million would be directed to hospitals and behavioral health providers to provide recruitment and retention payments to nurses and other employees involved in direct patient care activities, environmental services or clinical care services. An additional $15 million would be invested in nurse student loan forgiveness.

“Funding and staffing, particularly related to nurses, were among the top challenges cited by our rural health care providers at our hearing, and this initiative would help with both,” Causer said. “This is a significant step toward helping our hospitals and encouraging new nurses to enter the field to care for patients not only in our hospitals but in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities as well.

“While this is a much-needed investment in the well-being of health care providers and the patients who rely on them, this is just a first step. There is much work to do to address the long-term needs of health care, and particularly rural health care,” he added.

The following regional facilities are receiving the funding for recruitment and retention payments:

  • Bradford Regional Medical Center: $773,364.
  • Beacon Light Behavioral Health: $262,843.
  • UPMC Cole: $354,157.
  • UPMC Kane: $224,059.
  • UPMC Wellsboro: $281,880.
  • Penn Highlands Elk: $180,692
  • Warren General Hospital: $614,354.

Causer noted lawmakers are also working to provide an additional $25 million in funding to EMS and fire companies that are continuing to struggle under the added costs of the pandemic. That measure is expected to be considered early next month.

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