TOPEKA — A Kansas House committee tested the medical community’s pulse Tuesday on legislation earmarking $10 million in state funding for a new grant program to help financially struggling rural hospitals.
The Kansas Hospital Association and Kansas Medical Society offered affirmative testimony on the legislation, which would match every $2 invested by grant applicants with $1 from a new state fund. Under House Bill 2174, donors could specify the recipient county but not dictate what hospital within a county received a grant. The League of Kansas Municipalities requested the bill be amended to allow cities to receive grants from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment rather than limit that to counties.
Nationally, 47% of rural hospitals have been operating at a financial loss. Three of every four rural hospitals in Kansas have experienced losses. Advocates of the bill indicated the goal would be to assist rural communities with a sustainable path to delivery of preventive and primary care, chronic disease management and emergency medical services.