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Association Urges HHS to Fill Safety-Net Allocation Gaps

America’s Essential Hospitals in a July 6 letter urged the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to distribute a second round of targeted COVID-19 relief funding to ensure all hospitals serving a safety-net role receive critical relief dollars.

A month earlier, HHS announced the initial safety-net provider targeted allocation and began distributing Provider Relief Fund payments to eligible hospitals. To be eligible, hospitals had to meet three specific metrics. This stringent eligibility determination disregarded yearly fluctuations and operational nuances and, ultimately, excluded many of the hospitals this allocation sought to target.

In its letter, the association urged HHS to use a refined methodology that directs a portion of the remaining dollars in the Provider Relief Fund to hospitals filling a safety-net role that did not receive payment in the initial safety-net allocation.

Specifically, the association urges HHS to direct relief payments to entities that:

  • meet the statutory definition of deemed disproportionate share hospitals (DSH);
  • meet two of the three metrics defined by the agency to determine eligible safety-net hospitals in the initial allocation; or
  • are essential hospitals serving vulnerable communities and complex patients.

The association underscored the critical importance of essential hospitals in responding to the pandemic and the necessity of ensuring they receive adequate resources to keep their doors open.

The $175 billion Provider Relief Fund was authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. The fund is intended to support providers incurring health care–related expenses and lost revenue related to COVID-19 response efforts. To date, HHS has allocated more than $100 billion from the fund.

The association developed a members only COVID-19 funding tracker, capturing opportunities for essential hospitals to access needed resources. We encourage all members to visit our coronavirus resource page for more information about the outbreak.

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

Gontscharow is a senior policy analyst for America's Essential Hospitals.

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