Gov. Tom Wolf’s recent line-item veto of supplemental funds for Pennsylvania hospitals — including Tyrone Hospital — is having a significant impact.
The governor blue-lined those funds, which amount to $17.5 million in state funding and would trigger another $18.5 million in matching federal funds.
The cuts included funding for 14 critical access hospitals in rural counties, including Tyrone.
“We will get through this, but Gov. Wolf’s actions are having some impact on some things we are doing. We may have to control some expenses with certain services and activities. He doesn’t realize the impact he is making on the lives of people in the rural areas of Pennsylvania, including the Altoona area,” Tyrone Regional Health Network CEO Stephen Gildea said.
The critical access hospitals will be affected if the funds are not restored, said Larry Baronner, critical access coordinator for the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health.
“It averages out to about $1 million per hospital. It could have a significant impact on the hospital’s bottom line. It makes up the difference between the cost of providing services and what they are paid,” Baronner said.
Baronner said a recent Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health study from 2011-14 showed the impact of these funds on Tyrone Hospital.
“The study showed their operating margin was in the black for three out of four years with it, without it just one. That can mean the difference between operating in the black or in the negative for the year,” Baronner said.
Gildea said the hospital has not made any personnel cuts at this time.
“We are looking at all things such as expenses for supplies. You always start with stuff that doesn’t have an impact on patient services. We will continue to provide high quality patient care,” Gildea said.
Both Baronner and Gildea are optimistic that the funding will be restored.
“The governor knows this is an item that is heavily supported by the Republican Legislature. He doesn’t want to do anything to hurt the hospitals, but it is a matter of getting other things in the budget funded,” Baronner said.
“I think we will get the funding, maybe (in) February or March. We are still hopeful but preparing for the worst,” Gildea said.
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