Following Tester Push, Montana’s Rural Hospitals Eligible for Paycheck Protection Program

Hospitals that receive less than 50 percent of funding from state or local governments, excluding Medicaid, are eligible; Hospitals in Jordan, Shelby, Philipsburg, and Fort Benton now qualify

Continuing his aggressive push to provide support for Montana’s rural health care providers during the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced that additional rural hospitals are now eligible for relief through the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

“Rural hospitals and clinics have been hit hard by this pandemic, suffering lost revenue even as they’ve worked tirelessly on the front lines to keep folks in Montana’s remote communities healthy and safe,” said Tester. “I’ve been pushing aggressively to allow these hospitals to access the Paycheck Protection Program so they can keep the lights on and ensure our brave doctors and nurses have every tool in the toolbox to slow the spread of this virus.”

This Tester-backed change, will allow any hospital that gets less than 50 percent of their funding from state or local governments, excluding Medicaid, to qualify for loans through the Paycheck Protection Program to help maintain staff throughout the course of the pandemic. Roughly one third of rural hospitals across the country are municipally-owned, including four hospitals in Montana, and are usually ineligible for federal loans.

Earlier this month, Tester sent a letter to Senate Leadership urging them to expand eligibility for the PPP to include rural hospitals.

“Making sure these small, county-owned facilities have the means to continue operating is critical,” wrote Tester. “Across Montana, four hospitals in our most remote communities are county-owned: Garfield County Health Center in Jordan; Granite County Medical Center in Philipsburg; Marias Medical Center in Shelby; and Missouri River Medical Center in Fort Benton…These small hospitals and providers are the lifeblood of their communities—employers, providers, and a resource in times of crisis. Without them, residents of these frontier and remote towns will have nowhere to turn.”

Today, the President signed a bipartisan interim coronavirus relief package, supported by Tester, that includes $310 billion dollars for the PPP.

Tester has been pushing hard to make sure rural health care workers and providers receive the resources they need in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Just this week, Tester helped push to include $75 billion for hospitals into the interim coronavirus relief package after Senator Mitch McConnell’s initial legislation proposed no money for health providers.

He has also been personally urging Vice President Mike Pence to ensure the federal government fulfills its obligation to address the shortages of badly-needed medical supplies, test kits, and personal protective equipment for Montana’s frontline health workers and pressuring the Administration to prioritize rural providers when allocating resources for health providers. He has led the charge in pushing the federal government to make full use of its powers under the Defense Production Act to centralize supply chains of critical resources.

Tester has been working tirelessly to ensure that Montana is prepared to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. After 72 hours negotiating substantial, bipartisan improvements to COVID-19 stimulus legislation that had previously fallen far short, Tester voted to deliver critical, urgent relief to Montana workers, families, small businesses, hospitals and others hardest hit by the outbreak. This funding includes $1.25 billion for the state of Montana.

Visit for a list of resources for Montanans during the COVID-19 outbreak