State Efforts Underway to Save Struggling Rural Hospitals

FRANKFORT, Ky. —  A bill to help struggling rural hospitals has cleared a House committee. 

House Bill 387 sponsored by Rep. Danny Bentley, R-Russell, would create a revolving loan fund for hospitals in a county with 50,000 people or less. If a hospital were at risk of closing they would be able to apply for a loan from the Cabinet for Economic Development. 

The legislation was crafted after the closure of Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in Greenup County. 

“It was the only hospital in the county, we lost 1,200 jobs,” Bentley said. “So we were deeply concerned about the financial part and people getting health services so we got together and developed this bill.” 

Loans established through this would not be able to exceed a 20-year term and could be used to upgrade hospital facilities, maintain staffing levels, or provide health services that are not currently available. 

Members of the House Appropriation and Revenue Committee were supportive of the measure. 

“This is something that is truly needed and what we are here in Frankfort for and that’s to help our most vulnerable population and have a healthier Kentucky,” said Rep. Rob Rothenburger, R-Shelbyville. 

There are more than 60 hospitals that serve counties of less than 50,000 in Kentucky of those about 13 are vulnerable to closure. 

The bill heads to the House floor for a full vote.