Bill to assist rural Kentucky hospitals clears House panel

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky House committee has approved a bill to create a loan program to assist financially struggling rural hospitals. The bill is seen as a way to protect rural health care. The measure sailed through the House budget committee without opposition on Tuesday. It now goes to the full House. Hospitals situated in counties with fewer than 50,000 people would be eligible for the loans. The state economic development cabinet would administer the loan program. The measure was introduced following the recent announcement that Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in northeastern Kentucky will close later this year.