As federal funds for hospitals continue to be used, talks ongoing for more
Friday, July 24, 2020
If there’s going to be additional federal funding that provides protections to consumers and the U.S. economy, the list of hopeful recipients is getting a little long. Healthcare providers across the country are making their voices heard through their lobbying groups, essentially begging the Senate to include as much as $100 billion more in COVID-19 relief packages.
The American Hospital Association, American Nurses Association and American Medical Association are specifically pressing legislators for the cash. Their hospital and provider groups say they are struggling to fight financial burdens brought on as part of the pandemic’s near shuttering of the economy throughout a significant part of 2020.
A letter from the group stated: “Physicians, nurses, hospitals and health systems all across the country are incurring expenses [because of] sourcing and purchasing additional and potentially more expensive supplies and equipment, when available.
“For outpatient providers, there continues to be decreased demand for services, and those offices and facilities that are open are scheduling fewer patients due to social distancing precautions while incurring higher expenses for scarce personal protective equipment and other supplies,” the letter added.
The lobbyists continue to fight for operating cash to protect the U.S. health system, which is hemorrhaging cash responding to patients with the virus and due of a loss of elective procedure funds.
Additional expenses as a result of the virus include standing up emergency operation centers and providing housing and care for patients who don’t require hospitalization “but do not have housing in order to prevent spread of COVID-19; and construction or retrofitting facilities.”
The groups, which received handouts from a previous infusion of cash, want additional funds from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to "infuse these funds as soon as possible.”
Hospital groups also requested Congress to forgive loans made to providers under the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payments Program. The White House and Congress are working with these groups on a new legislative package, facing a deadline of July 31, when federal unemployment benefits expire.
Previously, from the Provider Relief Fund, rural providers in support of the national response to COVID-19, for example, were slated for as much as $10 billion in rural distribution for rural acute care general hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), Rural Health Clinics (RHCs), and Community Health Centers located in rural areas. In this instance, they received a minimum base payment plus a percentage of their annual expenses.
On July 17, HHS, through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), announced a distribution of $10 billion in a second round of high-impact COVID-19 area funding to hospitals.
“The top priority for HHS’s administration of the Provider Relief Fund has been getting support as quickly as possible to providers who have been hit hard by COVID-19,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar in a statement. “Because we’ve carefully targeted support, we can make payments to areas most in need as the pandemic evolves, like we are doing with this round of funds.”
The second round of funding is based on a formula for hospitals with more than 161 COVID-19 admissions between Jan. 1 and June 10, or one admission per day, or that experienced a disproportionate intensity of COVID-19 admissions (exceeding the average ratio of admissions/bed). Hospitals will be paid $50,000 per eligible admission.
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