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Boyle Introduces New Legislation To Prevent Sudden Hospital Closures

January 27, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Brendan F. Boyle (PA-02) introduced the Protecting Communities from Hospital Closures Act. It is legislation to provide oversight over future hospital closures to mitigate the impact on surrounding communities.
 
“I introduced this bill after witnessing how the sudden closure of Hahnemann continues to strain our community,” said Congressman Boyle. “When a hospital closes, it places unforeseen stress on other facilities in the area. We should do everything we can to preserve high quality, timely care for patients, both in Philadelphia and across the country. My legislation gives the federal government oversight over closure plans to ensure patients, employees, and other hospitals are not left out to dry. We can’t afford another Hahnemann-type closure.”
 
“Hahnemann’s closure rocked Philadelphia and woke us up to the destructive practices of the private equity and for-profit health care market,” said Philadelphia City Councilmember Helen Gym. “The hospitals that serve the most vulnerable patients – those most in need – are the very hospitals at the highest risk of closure. This is not just an urban problem. Pennsylvania alone has dozens of rural hospitals in worse financial shape than Hahnemann. Congressman Boyle's legislation ensures that Americans will have a voice in any hospital closure, protecting every community from the devastation of sudden closings."
 
The Hahnemann University Hospital, a safety net hospital that treated underserved patient populations in the Philadelphia area for over 170 years, abruptly closed in 2019 after a private equity-backed company, American Academic Health System, ran it to bankruptcy. The sudden closure did little to account for the impact on patients, staff, and other hospitals in the area.
 
This legislation is modeled after a bill introduced by Councilmember Helen Gym in the Philadelphia City Council. It requires hospitals to provide a written notice to the Department of Health and Human Services at least 180 days before closing a unit, department, or wing (or an entire hospital). The hospital must also have its closure plan—which provides details on the community impact, employee impact, and patient impact—approved by the Secretary. The Secretary, who can ask the courts to intervene when hospitals fail to comply, will also notify Congress when they receive, approve/reject, or modify a closure plan.
 
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