Yesterday, new legislation to make small, rural hospitals eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bipartisan legislation, entitled the PPP Access for Rural Hospitals Act, was introduced by Congressman Michael Guest (R-MS) and Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL). This legislation would allow smaller hospitals that are part of a larger health system to waive affiliation requirements to be eligible for the PPP. The language is narrowly tailored to ensure rural hospitals or those in most need are able to participate in the PPP program.
Currently, small, rural hospitals that are part of a larger health system are not eligible for PPP provisions if the health system has more than 500 employees across all of its facilities. Smaller hospitals included in large health systems have been left ineligible to apply for PPP loans. These hospitals, many of them rural, have experienced tremendous financial burdens during the COVID-19 pandemic and have expressed the need for the payroll assistance that could be provided by the PPP if the restrictive provisions were eliminated.
“Rural hospitals in Mississippi and across our nation provide critical services to their surrounding communities,” Rep. Guest said. “During this COVID-19 crisis, our doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers have been on the frontlines providing needed care. Unfortunately, our hospitals have seen interruptions in their normal operations during the pandemic, resulting in decreased revenues and financial hardship. I’m proud to join Congresswoman Sewell in introducing this bill that would provide payroll assistance to our rural hospitals, which could help ensure their continued viability.”
“We are still in the midst of a pandemic that has taken a devastating economic toll on our communities. It is more critical than ever that our rural hospitals on the front lines fighting COVID-19 have the resources they need to keep our communities healthy,” said Rep. Sewell. “The PPP Access for Rural Hospitals Act would make additional funding through the Paycheck Protection program available to some of our rural hospitals, saving jobs and helping to ensure hospitals with the most need are able to weather the financial hardships brought on by the pandemic.”
Joining Congressman Guest and Congresswoman Sewell as original cosponsors of the bill are Representatives Jim Hagedorn (R-MN), Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Greg Murphy (R-NC), Bradley Byrne (R-AL), Trent Kelly (R-MS), Roger Williams (R-TX), Andy Harris (R-MD), Phil Roe (R-TN), Greg Steube (R-FL), Chris Stewart (R-UT), Frank Lucas (R-OK), David Kustoff (R-TN), and Steven Palazzo (R-MS).
Congressman Michael Guest represents Mississippi’s Third Congressional District. He serves on the House Committee on Homeland Security, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the House Committee on Ethics.