ICMYI: McKinley Leads Bipartisan Effort to Stand Up for Hospitals

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representatives David B. McKinley, P.E., (R-W.Va.), Mike Levin (D-CA), Roger Marshall M.D., (R-KS), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Frank Lucas (R-OK), and Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), led a letter with 239 Members of Congress to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar expressing concerns over recent changes to the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) requirements.

The funds authorized under the CARES Act have provided critical relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds have been used to help protect the safety of frontline doctors and nurses, ensure access to quality care, and in many cases, have helped enable providers to keep their doors open during these challenging times.

“Even before the pandemic, rural hospitals across West Virginia have been hanging on by a thread,” said McKinley. “The funding Congress provided in the CARES Act has provided stability for hospitals to provide the level of care our communities are counting on. Penalizing hospitals and making it harder to keep this much-needed relief is the last thing we need right now.” 

“The AHA appreciates the leadership of Representative McKinley and the bipartisan support from Congress on this important issue,” said Tom Nickels, AHA’s executive vice president. “Their work to revise the reporting requirements will help ensure that hospitals and health systems can continue to care for their patients and provide services to their communities, particularly those in rural areas and those serving vulnerable communities.”

 “The Provider Relief Fund is a critical lifeline for essential hospitals serving vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Once again, Rep. McKinley has demonstrated his strong support for the health care safety net and the patients we serve. We thank Reps. McKinley, Levin, Marshall, Thompson, Lucas, O’Halleran, and their 239 House colleagues for helping to ensure providers have the resources they need to combat COVID-19,” said Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH, president and CEO, America’s Essential Hospitals.

“If already-struggling private safety-net hospitals are ordered to return some of their Provider Relief Funds, the health care disparities between their low-income, medically vulnerable communities and others will only grow,” said Ellen Kugler, Executive Director, National Alliance of Safety-Net Hospitals. “NASH is most grateful to Representatives McKinley, Thompson, Marshall, Levin, Lucas, and O’Halleran for leading the effort to address this problem.”

In the letter, McKinley and the other Members wrote:

“On September 19, 2020, the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) announced changes to the PRF reporting requirements that could force many hospitals and other providers to return some of this vital funding and jeopardize patients’ access to care while the nation continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic,” wrote the Members. “This represents an about-face from the stipulations that HHS outlined months ago, which providers based their planning upon during an already tumultuous fiscal environment. HHS should return to PRF reporting requirements established on June 19, 2020.

“This sudden and dramatic shift has created numerous problems for the nation’s hospitals at the very same time they continue to be our first line of defense against the COVID-19 pandemic.  We therefore urge you to reinstate the June 19 requirements so that our frontline providers are able to focus their full resources on protecting the health and safety of the communities they serve,” added the Members.

To read the letter, click here.

Background:

The idea for writing the letter to HHS Secretary Azar came from McKinley hosting several meetings with hospitals in West Virginia.

The CARES Act delivered an initial $30 billion in funds to states. Over 1,770 West Virginia providers received a total of $246,574,851 in funding.

Over concern for the recent changes to the PRF reporting requirements, HHS announced it has amended its reporting instructions to provide for the full applicability PRF distributions to lost revenues.

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