Pennsylvania to Accelerate $225 Million in Pandemic Hospital Relief

The Pennsylvania State Senate on Tuesday accelerated legislation to spend $225 million to help hospitals struggling to retain staff as the micron variant of the coronavirus flooded hospitals with unvaccinated patients.

The bill received support from Gov. Tom Wolf and leaders of the House of Representatives and was expected to receive a final vote in the House on Wednesday. The money comes from federal pandemic aid signed by President Joe Biden last March.

Under the bill, $100 million will be distributed to acute care hospitals on a per-bed basis, which works out to about $2,800 per bed, according to an Appropriations Committee analysis.

Another $110 million will be distributed to hospitals that serve poorer and more rural areas, hospitals with a high proportion of Medicaid patients, and facilities that provide inpatient mental health services, giving them an additional $4,400 per bed.

The money is for staff who are involved in direct patient care, environmental services, or clinical care, not for executives, contract workers, or administrators.

Retention payments must be made within three months and recruitment payments within six months.

The remaining $15 million will go to a government program launched during the pandemic to repay nursing student loans of up to $7,500 per person.

The initial $5 million in funding for this was not enough to satisfy thousands of applications, government officials said.

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