For-profit hospitals hit by Hurricane Katrina would be able to tap into federal emergency assistance funds to repair the damage to their facilities, under an amendment planned by Louisiana Sens. David Vitter, a Republican, and Mary Landrieu, a Democrat. Rep. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) is expected to introduce similar legislation in the House. Current law makes the funds available only to not-for-profits. But the number of investor-owned hospitals in the U.S. has soared since the law was created in 1974. In hard-hit Louisiana, for example, about 35% of hospitals are now investor-owned, the lawmakers said in a letter to leaders of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The committee is considering a bill to expedite emergency assistance payments. "Our amendment is a necessary change that recognizes that disasters strike without respect to hospital ownership," the letter said. The Federation of American Hospitals, a trade group representing for-profit hospitals, said Katrina directly affected 25 of its members. Congress considered -- but did not pass -- similar legislation after a series of storms hit Florida last year. -- by Tony Fong
Senators seek federal aid for for-profits hit by Katrina
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