Pflug bill could give flexibility to Snoqualmie Valley Hospital

Snoqualmie Valley Hospital could get more flexibility in how it serves seniors, under a new bill being sponsored by state Sen. Cheryl Pflug (R-Maple Leaf).

Senate Bill 5423 allows hospitals in cities or towns without nursing homes to designate a certain number of beds as longer-term care beds ­— or “swing beds” ­— and be reimbursed for those beds by Medicare. It is designed to provide flexibility to meet patient and community needs.

Snoqualmie Valley Hospital could use the bill’s flexibility to develop a geriatric psychiatric service, Pflug said.

The hospital could collaborate with other local long-term care providers, such as Mount Si transitional nursing center in North Bend, to develop and deliver a complementary program of long-term health care services to the community, the senator said.

Swing beds are possible under a federal law that designates certain, mostly rural hospitals as “critical access.” This qualifies them for enhanced reimbursements that would help sustain their operations.

“I want to do anything I can to help residents receive care in their communities rather than be forced to travel to other facilities in the region far from home and family,” Pflug said.

Hospital administrators could not be reached for comment.

SB 5423 now moves to the House of Representatives. If passed, it would become law this summer.

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