Speaker Sara Gideon and Senate President Jackson issued a letter to the United States Small Business Administration urging them make a change to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that would help rural hospitals. Current PPP program guidance makes ineligible for program funding any facility currently involved in a bankruptcy proceeding.

In Maine, two facilities currently fall into this category, Penobscot Valley Hospital and Calais Regional Hospital, and the closure of either facility would be devastating for the communities they serve.

Full letter available here, excerpt below:

While we support the rigorous oversight of the expenditure of taxpayer funds, we believe this across-the-board restriction fails to account for the unique circumstances of our rural hospitals. Rural hospitals are a critical link in our healthcare system. In more normal times, they provide high-quality care to the thousands of Mainers for whom a trip to the doctor or hospital would otherwise take hours away from their daily lives. In an emergency, they represent the ability of our state’s citizens who live in rural areas to access potentially lifesaving care.

Rural hospitals are also economic engines in their communities. Often numbering among their area’s largest employers, they provide good paying jobs, which in turn lead to local reinvestment.

We urge you to take these circumstances into careful consideration, and to support a change to the program guidance for PPP that would allow all rural hospitals to benefit from this funding source. The health of the patients they serve, the doctors, nurses and staff they employ, and the communities where they are based depend upon it.