Legislature passes King bill that would help rural hospital in Toppenish

The outlook for the hospital that serves Toppenish and much of the lower Yakima Valley is brighter now that bipartisan legislation from Sen. Curtis King has won full legislative approval.

Senate Bill 5532 would provide enhanced payments to low-volume, small rural hospitals like Astria Toppenish Hospital. It specifically would require Medicaid payments for acute-care services to be made at 120% of the Medicaid fee schedule for inpatient services and 200% of the Medicaid fee schedule for outpatient services when services are provided by a hospital that meets certain requirements.

“It’s good to see the Legislature pass this important bill and send it to the governor,” said King, R-Yakima. “The bill is critical to the future of Astria Toppenish Hospital, and vital to the needs of the citizens of the lower Yakima Valley, our Hispanic community and the Yakama Tribe. Without this extra funding, the hospital is at risk of closing.”

The proposal received unanimous approval during each step through the Legislature. After the Senate originally passed SB 5532 on a 48-0 vote on March 6, the House of Representatives amended and then approved the altered proposal 98-0. The Senate today voted 48-0 to concur (or agree) with the House changes to the bill.

The House amendment would change the implementation date for increased hospital-reimbursement rates from Jan. 1, 2024, to July 1, 2024, and would make SB 5532 invalid unless it is funded in the state operating budget.