Senate passes King bill that would help rural hospital in Toppenish

A bipartisan proposal sponsored by 14th District Sen. Curtis King that would help keep the doors open at Astria Toppenish Hospital, which serves much of the lower Yakima Valley, was unanimously approved by the Senate yesterday.

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.

“This bill is critical to this small rural hospital in the lower Yakima Valley,” said King, R-Yakima. “It is a hospital so valued and needed by the Yakama tribe, by our Hispanic community and by all of the citizens who live in the lower Yakima Valley. Without this extra funding, the hospital is at risk of closing. I’m so very glad the Senate passed this important bill.”

During the public hearing on SB 5532 in the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee in February, several local people testified in support, including Yakima County Commissioner LaDon Linde, Dr. Raul Garcia from Astria Toppenish Hospital and Dr. Rex Quaempts, medical director of Yakima Indian Health Services.

SB 5532 now goes to the House of Representatives for further consideration.