House Passes Bartolotta Bill to Preserve Access to Ventilator Care

HARRISBURG – A bill sponsored by Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46) to preserve access to ventilator and tracheostomy care in the Commonwealth’s nursing facilities received support in the House and now moves to Gov. Tom Wolf for his consideration.

Senate Bill 108 would dedicate additional Medicaid funding to facilities that serve a substantial number of patients who require ventilator or tracheostomy care. Similar legislation (House Bill 1012) has been sponsored by Rep. Tim O’Neal (R-Washington).

People require this type of care for a variety of reasons, including trauma due to an auto accident, fall or stroke. It may also be necessary because of a diagnosis of a degenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or multiple sclerosis.

Ventilator care is not end-of-life care, nor is it always permanent. Rather, the specialized expertise of the skilled nursing providers in caring for long-term, stabilized ventilator patients, are often able to set up a weaning program that is tailored for each individual and allows for the extra time and healing they need.

As Medicaid payments for this important care have declined substantially in the past decade, more and more providers have stated their intent to limit or entirely cease providing ventilator care.

“Because Medicaid payments for ventilator and tracheostomy care have substantially declined in the past 10 years, providers intend to limit or stop providing this care completely – which would reduce access to critical medical treatment. My bill would dedicate additional funding to facilities and incentivize those that do not yet provide this care,” Bartolotta said. “A special thanks to Rep. Tim O’Neal for his efforts including his invaluable assistance to advance this bill in the House.” 

“As the prime sponsor of the House companion bill, I’m pleased we were able to collectively work together to get this issue addressed,” said Rep. Tim O’Neal. “Families should not be forced to unnecessarily travel hours to visit loved ones due to a lack of nearby ventilator or tracheostomy care. Also, this is an issue of escalating medical costs as hospital beds are needlessly occupied by people who could be better served in a step-down care facility. I urge the governor to sign this bill in short order.”

As Senate Bill 108 now advances to Gov. Wolf for his consideration, he will have 10 days to sign or veto the bill into law. If he takes no action in 10 days, the bill will become law without his signature.

 

CONTACT: Colleen Greer, 717-787-1463