Recruiting and Retaining Health Care Professionals in Northeastern PA
On Monday, I joined Senator Arlen Specter and Congressman Paul Kanjorski to discuss Medicare funding with leadership, doctors, nurses and staff of hospitals in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Current law, under a provision called "Section 508," provides for extra money to 14 hospitals in northeastern Pennsylvania so they can recruit high quality health care professionals and pay them better wages. Since joining the Senate in January 2007, I have consistently advocated to continue these funds, which are critical to hospitals in northeastern Pennsylvania so they compete with hospitals in surrounding areas. The most recent extension of this provision expired on September 30, 2009 and I’ve been working to have it extended.
Both versions of the current health reform legislation include an extension of the 508 relief. The Patient, Protection and Affordable Care Act (the Senate bill) includes a one-year extension and the Affordable Health Care for America Act (the House bill) includes a two-year extension.
While I am encouraged that both bills contain an extension, Senator Specter and I sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid urging them to include the two-year extension in the final version of bill. The longer extension would assist hospitals in budgeting and give them a sense of security that enables them to better serve our communities. I will continue to work to help these hospitals in the coming months and years.