Proposal to extend hospital license stalls in Senate

 

The battle to extend the local hospital’s license may be nearing a close after the proposal failed on the Senate floor Tuesday.

State Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Moneta, and Del. Charles Poindexter, R-Glade Hill, filed proposals to extend the local hospital’s Acute Care License.

In Tuesday votes, House Bill (HB) 175 won unanimous support in the House of Delegates’ Health, Welfare and Institutions committee, but the Senate version, SB 134, stalled.

Stanley could not immediately be reached for comment after the vote.

However, after the vote, Stanley vowed to re-file the proposal, according to Debbie Foley, director of the Patrick County Economic Development Authority. Foley was among the delegation of Patrick officials in Richmond for both Jan. 16 votes.

On Monday Stanley said the bill had become a political football.

“I was notified by the Democrats that they will try to kill this bill or remove its ability to be enacted immediately unless I support their efforts to expand Medicaid,” Stanley said Monday.

The democrats have pushed for the expansion, which also tops the list of a legislative agenda for the upcoming year. A collaborative effort between Gov. Ralph Northam and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the agenda shows the expansion would cover an additional 400,000 people. (See related story on page 15.)

Stanley said GOP lawmakers have battled against the expansion because it will cost Virginia millions of dollars.

Now, legislators who fail to support SB 134 “are willing to kill our chances of finding a new operator for the Patrick County Hospital in order to prove a political point which has nothing to do with us trying to save our hospital. This cannot stand,” Stanley said.

“They cannot play party politics in order to push a particular agenda, but rather they need to do what is right in saving the Patrick County Hospital,” Stanley said of the proposal that garnered support of the Senate Education and Health Committee last week.

Then, “the bill passed nearly unanimously, but for one Democrat hold-out from Northern Virginia,” Stanley said.

Online records showed one committee member abstained when the vote was taken.

Before that vote was taken, Stanley said the license extension “is a major step necessary to breathe new life into the future of the Patrick County Hospital. The hospital, through no fault of its own, was abruptly closed this summer by its owners.”

The hospital closure in September “came as a complete surprise by all, leaving the citizens of Patrick County with no local alternatives for emergency services and medical care,” Stanley said. “It is vitally important to re-open the Patrick County Hospital as soon as possible. The retaining of its license is a necessary first step to make that happen.”

A full vote is expected on Poindexter’s bill next week.

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