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Nikki Hurt

Nikki Hurt is a manager of legislative affairs at America's Essential Hospitals.

The highly anticipated bill would add $25 billion to the Provider Relief Fund and extend Medicare telehealth flexibility. It would not block the Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Regulation or delay the Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payment cut scheduled for Dec. 1.

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Republicans and Democrats remain divided on relief measures to include in a fourth COVID-19 package; the association encourages members to share essential hospital priorities. An association letter to key congressional committees highlights the importance of telehealth during and after the pandemic.

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The association calls on member hospitals to urge their senators to include essential hospital relief measures in future COVID-19 supplemental legislation. House committees continue work on COVID-19 oversight and fiscal year 2021 spending bills. 

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As Senate leaders consider a fourth COVID-19 aid package, the president signs legislation to extend the Paycheck Protection Program. A bipartisan bill would ensure 340B hospitals maintain eligibility amid COVID-19, regardless of payer mix changes.

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The House passed legislation to strengthen the ACA and is expected to pass an infrastructure bill authorizing $10 billion for hospital construction and modernization; the Senate is unlikely to consider the bills. The association responds to a congressional request for lessons learned from COVID-19.

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Hearings are slated this week in several committees to examine the COVID-19 pandemic and response. Meanwhile, House Democratic leaders introduced a $1.5 trillion infrastructure investment package that would dedicate $10 billion over five years to hospital construction and modernization.

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House and Senate lawmakers are analyzing and reacting to last week's announcement of new Provider Relief Fund allocations for safety-net providers; committees are slated to examine the role of telehealth and disparities as the pandemic has progressed.

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The letter urges HHS to target COVID-19 provider relief funds toward hospitals serving a disproportionate number of vulnerable patients. The timeline for developing and negotiating the next COVID-19 supplemental legislative package has slipped to July.

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The House passed a bipartisan bill on a 417-1 vote to loosen some restrictions on Paycheck Protection Program relief funds and extend the timeline for businesses to use the funding. The House and Senate are in session this week and will conduct committee work related to COVID-19.

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Voting by proxy for the first time, the House is slated to decide this week on legislation to amend the Paycheck Protection Program to increase the amount of time small businesses have to spend emergency COVID-19 aid.

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The House passed a resolution temporarily permitting proxy voting and remote committee work, as well as a new stimulus package. Meanwhile, more than 90 representatives signed a letter calling for relief payments for providers seeing a disproportionate number of Medicaid and low-income patients.

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The House approved the HEROES Act by a narrow margin. While the bill will not become law, it contains a number of provisions important to essential hospitals and for which the association will advocate in any final COVID-19 supplemental legislation.

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House Democratic leaders released a comprehensive COVID-19 legislative package. The association is calling on member hospitals to ask their representatives to sign a bipartisan letter on targeting COVID-19 emergency funds toward essential providers.

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The Senate returns to Washington this week, with the House expected to return May 11. Congressional hearings this week will focus on COVID-19 response efforts, including testing. Meanwhile, several association webinars will focus on health care workforce issues related to the pandemic.

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The House and Senate passed legislation to provide an additional $484 billion in relief for small businesses and health care entities impacted by COVID-19. A new bipartisan House task force will examine how to adapt legislative business and voting procedures to social distancing practices.

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Negotiations continue on a final agreement, which is expected to include funding for small businesses, hospitals, and coronavirus testing. America's Essential Hospitals urges members to contact their members of Congress and ask them to support the association's COVID-19 priorities.

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Congress should increase emergency funding for hospitals on the front lines of the COVID-19 epidemic, target hospitals in greatest need, adjust Medicaid to help essential hospitals, and provide other financial and regulatory relief.

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Twelve spending bills must advance through Congress and be signed by the president by Nov. 21 to fully fund the federal government for fiscal year 2020.

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