News Releases

Senator Murray Introduces National Trauma Center Stabilization Act to Ensure Americans Have Access to Lifesaving Care

Mar 27 2009

Bill would provide much needed support for Harborview Medical Center which is the only level I trauma center serving Washington, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho

Summary

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Murray (D-WA) introduced the National Trauma Center Stabilization Act which provides federal grants for trauma care centers across the nation that are struggling and often closing their doors because of the increased costs of providing health care and uncompensated charity care.

"Trauma can happen at any time and to anyone, whether it's a family in a highway crash, a gunshot victim, or a construction worker in an accident – trauma centers must be available to provide immediate care," Senator Murray said. “My bill will ensure that increased health care costs and charity care doesn’t block access to the trauma care Americans rely on. This bill also ensures that by opening the doors of trauma care to all we are not causing the doors of some facilities to close for good. Because accidents don't discriminate among rich and poor and neither should our trauma care centers."

The National Trauma Center Stabilization Act will provide assistance for economically distressed trauma centers by reauthorizing federal funding for centers facing the highest uncompensated costs, provide emergency funding to help prevent trauma center closures or downgrades, provide financial support for core mission services and address the growing problem of physician shortages and lack of access in underserved regions.

Harborview – Crisis in the Northwest

The crisis in trauma care funding is a particularly urgent problem in the Northwest where Harborview Medical Center has the only level one trauma center serving four states – Washington, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho. Harborview has the highest occupancy rate of any hospital in the region, logs over 75,000 emergency department visits each year, and performs over $110 million in charity care each year– which represents 21% of their total expenditures.

"Trauma centers play a critical role in saving the lives of those seriously injured in everyday accidents and assaults, natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes, and terrorist attacks.  Protecting the economic viability of our nation’s trauma centers is essential to ensuring universal access to trauma care for all who need it,” said Ronald Maier MD, FACS, Chairman of the National Foundation for Trauma Care, Jane and Donald Trunkey Chair of Trauma Surgery, and Vice Chair of Surgery at Harborview Medical  Center in Seattle, Washington.  “We applaud Senator Murray for her leadership and we look forward to working with Congress to ensure the swift enactment and full funding of this crucial legislation.”

“Senator Murray's outstanding leadership for this bill benefits trauma centers throughout the country,” said Johnese Spisso, Vice President of Medical Affairs at the University of Washington. “Her efforts in support for trauma care have helped the State of Washington build a model Trauma System that benefits every citizen by assuring access to life saving trauma care at Harborview is maintained.