HARRISBURG – Senators Camera Bartolotta (R-46) and Dan Laughlin (R-49) have introduced a bill that would preserve access to ventilator or tracheostomy care for hundreds of patients in Pennsylvania.
Roughly 700 patients in Pennsylvania receive Medicaid-covered ventilator or tracheostomy care in a nursing home in any given month. However, Medicaid does not reimburse providers for all of the additional expenses these patients incur, including specialized equipment, supplies and staff costs.
Many providers face the prospect of limiting – or even eliminating – services for these patients. As a result, 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 daily cost of care is roughly four times higher than in a nursing home.
Senate Bill 959 would dedicate additional Medicaid funding to facilities that serve a substantial number of patients who require ventilator or tracheostomy care.
The bill would provide an additional reimbursement for facilities that treat a large percentage of patients who require this highly specialized care. Currently, just 13 facilities in Pennsylvania treat more than 300 of the state’s 700 patients who require these services.
“The largest provider of ventilator and tracheostomy care in the state recently filed for bankruptcy protection. That underscores just how serious this crisis has become,” Bartolotta said. “Providing this kind of care is hard work, and it is expensive. Ensuring providers are reimbursed for these costs will not only preserve access to care, but will also provide an incentive for more providers to offer these services in their own communities.”
“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,” said Laughlin, co-prime sponsor of the bill. “I believe we are at a critical juncture and if we don’t properly fund this type of care soon we will have a crisis on our hands.”