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Analysis

AHA Asks HHS for $52B in Emergency Funding

By John Commins  
   June 02, 2020

The funding would be in addition to the $170 billion that the federal government has already provided to hospitals in stimulus spending. 

The American Hospital Association on Tuesday pressed the federal government for an additional $52 billion in "expedited" emergency funding to help the nation's hospitals stem losses accrued during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Many hospitals are in dire circumstances as they face the biggest financial crisis in history," AHA President and CEO Richard J. Pollack said in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

"While our members continue to do everything they can to address COVID-19 cases, quickly making substantial additional funds available would help them continue to put the health and safety of patients and personnel first, and in many cases, may actually ensure they are able to keep their doors open," Pollack said.

Hospitals across the nation have all but shuttered most elective and outpatient services for the past two months to contend with COVID-19. The AHA estimates a total four-month financial impact of $202.6 billion in losses for hospitals and health systems, an average of $50.7 billion per month.

So far, the federal government has doled out about $170 billion in direct aid to hospitals in a series of stimulus bills.

In this latest push for more emergency funding, AHA is asking for:

  • $10 billion for "hot spot" hospitals to offset costs incurred in testing, diagnosing and treating COVID-19 cases.

"If an admissions-based payment is again used, consideration should be given not only to the most recently available data on the raw number of admissions, but also to the portion of a hospital’s admissions accounted for by COVID-19," Pollack said, adding that HHS should also include $2 billion based on a hospital's low-income and uninsured patient mix, as HHS had done previously.

  • $10 billion for hospitals serving high numbers of Medicaid and uninsured patients, who often have underlying health conditions, and who have suffered disproportionately from the pandemic.

"They have been hospitalized at greater rates, and required more care and resources once hospitalized," Pollack said.

  • $30 billion to all  hospitals, including rural and urban short-term acute-care, long-term care, critical access hospitals, as well as inpatient rehabilitation and inpatient psychiatric facilities.

    "Funds should be distributed in an equitable manner, such as by the number of beds, as the Department recently did for skilled-nursing facility distributions," Pollack said.

    To expedite the process, Pollack recommended that HHS use the same application process it created to distribute funds to hospitals and health systems based on their COVID-19-related costs and lost revenue.

    "They include, for example, expenses related to surge capacity, expenses related to ensuring an adequate workforce, and additional expenses, such as for managing and treating persons under investigation who may or may not turn out to be COVID-19 positive," he said.

“Many hospitals are in dire circumstances as they face the biggest financial crisis in history.”

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

$10 billion for "hot spot" hospitals to offset costs incurred in testing, diagnosing and treating COVID-19 cases.

$10 billion for hospitals serving high numbers of Medicaid and uninsured patients, who often have underlying health conditions, and who have suffered disproportionately from the pandemic.

$30 billion to all  hospitals, including rural and urban short-term acute-care, long-term care, critical access hospitals, as well as inpatient rehabilitation and inpatient psychiatric facilities.


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