Golden Introduces Legislation to Permanently Extend Small Business Relief to Small, Rural Hospitals
LEWISTON — Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) introduced new legislation today that would make Penobscot Valley Hospital, Calais Regional Hospital, and other non-profit critical access hospitals across the country permanently eligible for small business relief under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The two hospitals were denied access to the program last month after the Small Business Administration decided organizations with ongoing bankruptcy proceedings would not be permitted to apply. Since that time, court proceedings have granted them access to the program, but only on a temporary basis.
“Many Mainers in rural communities in Washington and Penobscot Counties count on Calais Regional and Penobscot Valley for health care and for good-paying jobs,” said Golden. “The government shouldn’t be putting up barriers for these hospitals — and other struggling non-profit critical access hospitals across the country — to access the relief funds they need to keep their doors open and their workers employed during the coronavirus crisis. The bill I’m introducing today will make sure CRH, PVH, and hospitals like them have a permanent solution that guarantees equal access to PPP funds.”
Late last week, Golden led a letter with Senators Collins and King to SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza urging her to amend her agency’s yet-to-be finalized PPP rules to make non-profit critical access hospitals currently undergoing Chapter 11 reorganization eligible for PPP relief.
Earlier this week, a judge issued a restraining order against the SBA to allow Calais Regional Hospital and Penobscot Valley Hospital to submit an application for PPP aid. The restraining order is temporary, however, and critical access hospitals under financial stress are in need of a permanent, reliable solution for access to PPP funds.
“We appreciate the extraordinary work that this bill by Congressman Golden is releasing, to find a legislative-path solution for critical access hospitals in a chapter 11 bankruptcy process, like Penobscot Valley Hospital, to receive PPP funding. Strong, financially sustainable rural healthcare is critical in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and equally important for sustainable healthcare delivery to the community for many years to come.” - Crystal Landry, CEO, Penobscot Valley Hospital
“Our hospital is important to public health and the economy in our community. We are the largest employer in our community and contribute to an approximate $38 million in economic impact per year. Rep. Golden and the delegation’s letter was extremely helpful in the decision made to allow CRH to participate in the PPP. Even though we have this temporary win in the courts, a permanent solution is really needed. I believe the nation has become fully aware as to how vulnerable our hospitals are with this pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, over half of rural hospitals were struggling financially. The National Rural Health Association estimates that over 500 small rural hospitals will close in the next year nationwide.”- Rod Boula, CEO, Calais Regional Hospital
The National Rural Health Association supports Golden’s bill.
Golden’s legislation would create a narrow exception to the SBA’s eligibility requirements for the PPP. Non-profit hospitals designated as ‘critical access’ in smaller, more rural communities that are undergoing chapter 11 bankruptcy would be eligible to receive funds.
Read the text of Golden’s bill here.