Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) Chairman, President and CEO Donovan Blackburn was on hand Friday, April 12th, for a ceremonial bill signing of Senator Phillip Wheeler’s Senate Bill 280.

SB 280 successfully created the Kentucky Medicaid Assistance Program (KMAP), which will be revolutionary for Kentucky residents’ access to quality care and will bolster Kentucky’s rural hospitals. According to a statement from the Kentucky Senate Majority office in Frankfort, the passage of SB 280 creates the largest reimbursement increases for smaller hospitals in the commonwealth’s history.

“The passage of Senate Bill 280 is a major win for rural health care in Kentucky,” said Senator Phillip Wheeler. “While our major university-operated healthcare facilities do a fantastic job of providing world-class care to our residents, we can’t forget the crucial role our rural hospitals play in providing Kentuckians with care, oftentimes in their most urgent times of need. Countless studies have shown that health care outcomes are improved when patients can stay close to home and near their families and loved ones.”

Senator Wheeler represents the 31st Senate District, which encompasses several counties, including Pike, in Eastern Kentucky. The goal of Senate Bill 280 was to generate much-needed funds for rural hospitals in Kentucky with a 35 percent or higher Medicare payor rate. If approved by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the newly created KMAP program will level the healthcare playing field by allowing classified rural hospitals to receive the same reimbursements that larger hospitals such as the University of Kentucky or the University of Louisville normally receive.

“I cannot find the proper words to express how monumental the passage of Senate Bill 280 is for support and preservation of rural health care, particularly in Eastern Kentucky,” explained Blackburn. “The role that our regional transfer hospitals play for our rural communities is indispensable. I want to thank Senator Wheeler for his tireless efforts to ensure this legislation became law. I truly value both our working partnership and our friendship. I look forward to continuing to work together to better strengthen and advocate for our rural communities.”

Senator Phillip Wheeler has long been an advocate for improving Kentucky’s rural communities. During his tenure in the Kentucky Senate, he has championed initiatives to uplift the economies of rural areas and support rural healthcare providers and their patients.

For more information about Senate Bill 280, visit https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/record/24rs/sb280.html