O’Mara, Pashinski, Comitta and advocates discuss Hospital Closure Reform

House Bill 158 & Senate Bill 184 would bring more transparency, accountability to closure process

HARRISBURG, May 3 -- State Reps. Jennifer O’Mara, Eddie Day Pashinski, and state Sen. Carolyn Comitta hosted a news conference today with local and statewide advocates where they discussed the need for hospital closure reform legislation.

Pashinski’s and O’Mara’s legislation, H.B. 158, and Comitta’s S.B. 184, would double the time in which a hospital system must notify state and local agencies of a planned closure from 90 to 180 days. In addition, the legislation would establish more comprehensive standards for procedures and notification of a planned closure. It also includes requirements for an approved Closing Plan and Health Equity Impact Assessment to be submitted to the Department of Health and state attorney general. And, it calls for increased community input, data collection, public comment and public hearings prior to closure.

“Springfield Hospital’s emergency room closed over a year ago, and the building remains vacant. The nearest ER for Springfield residents is 15 minutes away. What used to be a 5-minute drive has now increased three-fold after our local hospital closed down,” O’Mara said. “This is unacceptable because minutes matter in a life-or-death situation. Our state law needs to ensure this isn’t the norm for every closure and that communities have the time they need to thoroughly prepare new care options.”

Pashinski, O’Mara and Comitta were joined at the news conference by local and statewide advocates who support their legislation, including:

  • Dr. Monica Taylor, chair, Delaware County Council.
  • Marian Moskowitz, chair, Chester County Commissioners.
  • Patrick Keenan, director of consumer protections & policy, Pennsylvania Health Access Network.

“When hospitals and health care facilities close or significantly reduce services, patients, doctors, nurses, staff and entire communities suffer,” Pashinski said. “These facilities need oversight because they are not like other businesses; they make the difference between life or death and improve the quality of life for local patients.”

Photos from the news conference are available on O’Mara’s website: https://www.pahouse.net/OMara/PhotoGallery?g=5618.