Details released on support for healthcare workers

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HARRISBURG—The Wolf administration has shared details of the $225 million appropriation in Act 2 of 2022, which will support the health care workforce needs of hospitals and behavioral health providers.

This legislation received bi-partisan support in the General Assembly, and Gov. Tom Wolf signed it into law in January. Funding will come from the federal American Rescue Plan Act and will be distributed to eligible hospitals and behavioral health providers across the commonwealth. 

“Front line workers are the heroes in this pandemic, and they deserve our thanks and support,” said Department of Human Services Acting Secretary Meg Snead. “This funding will allow health care centers and individuals to start to rebuild from the ongoing financial effects of the pandemic and recruit and retain staff who are vital to keeping our communities healthy and safe.” 

In recent months, Pennsylvania’s health care workforce has been under extreme stress as hospitals and health care facilities reach and exceed capacity while seeing patients with higher levels of acuity. Staffing shortages and high numbers of patients have contributed to community and psychiatric hospitals reaching capacity and needing to divert patients to other equally burdened facilities. In response, hospitals and health care systems asked the commonwealth for funding specifically for recruitment and retention of key personnel. 

Act 2 of 2022 appropriated $225 million to support the following health care areas: 

$100 million to be distributed to acute care, critical access, and children’s hospitals licensed by the Department of Health on a per-bed basis. The funding will be used strictly for recruitment and retention payments to direct care staff. 

$110 million to be distributed on a per-bed basis to high-Medical Assistance hospitals, designated Critical Access Hospitals, and inpatient and residential behavioral health facilities for recruitment and retention payments to key staff. 

$15 million to quadruple the funds available for the nurse loan forgiveness program at Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, a high-demand program which has already received more than 20,000 applications by the March 1 deadline. 

“We are working together with hospitals and health systems to support the healthcare heroes who have been battling COVID-19 and enhance recruitment and retention efforts so that care is available for everyone who needs it,” Acting Secretary of Health Keara Klinepeter said. “The Wolf Administration remains steadfast in securing crisis support by expanding regional testing opportunities, deploying strike teams and establishing regional support sites to provide additional hospital capacity. This funding amplifies the Wolf Administration’s efforts and continues to support these facilities and their staff who provide high-quality care for our fellow Pennsylvanians even during the most trying times.”