HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — State lawmakers are considering a bill that would give extra funding to facilities prioritizing ventilator and tracheostomy care.

The goal is to have more specialized nursing facilities able to provide this care, leaving more room at the hospital.

House Bill 1012 is now being considered by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

It was passed by the state House of Representatives last week.

The bill’s sponsors Representatives Tim O’Neil and Sheryl Delozier say the pandemic has forced us to quickly learn how valuable ventilators are.

This legislation would dedicate more Medicaid funding to skilled nursing facilities showing a commitment for patients on a ventilator or with a tracheostomy, which is an opening that provides direct access to the windpipe to relieve obstructive breathing.

Specifically, the bill would give an extra $130 per eligible medicaid ventilator or tracheostomy day.

O’Neil says Medicaid reimbursement for this kind of care has been limited over the last ten years, and having these resources in specialized nursing facilities can help keep patients out of costly hospital beds or be placed far from loved ones.

Delozier says facilties that specialize in ventilator and tracheostomy cases cannot counterbalance the low level of reimbursement, and several have closed within the last year, making this care even more critical.

The legislation would also create an incentive for facilities to increase geographical access to ventilator and tracheostomy care.