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Association Asks HHS to Target COVID-19 Funds to Essential Hospitals

In a Sept. 20 letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, the association welcomes the announcement of additional COVID-19 relief funding but notes the methodology falls short of adequate support for safety net providers.

HHS plans to allocate a total of $25.5 billion to providers, including:

  • $17 billion through a phase 4 distribution of the Provider Relief Fund (PRF); and
  • $8.5 billion through a separate payment stream to rural providers, as required by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

In the letter, America’s Essential Hospitals explains the necessity of releasing further PRF funds, especially as the latest phase 4 distribution disfavors large providers and omits lost revenues and expenses hospitals incurred related to the delta variant. The association urges HHS to issue another targeted safety net distribution, as well as:

  • revise the phase 4 methodology to ensure hospitals disproportionately serving people of color and low-income populations receive funding to cover their COVID-19 expenses and losses, regardless of provider size;
  • be transparent in its methodology for calculating phase 4 payment amounts; and
  • issue the rural provider distribution consistent with Congress’ intent in the ARPA.

Visit the America’s Essential Hospitals coronavirus resource page for more information about the pandemic.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

Abigail Painchaud is a policy associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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