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On the Hill: Bipartisan Letter on COVID-19 Funding

A bipartisan Senate letter urges the Department of Health and Humans Service (HHS) to target an allocation of COVID-19 Provider Relief Fund payments toward hospitals and providers that serve a disproportionate number of vulnerable patients.

The letter, led by Sens. Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), calls attention to the financial toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on providers that serve a large volume of Medicaid and low-income patients. In total, 16 senators — eight Democrats and eight Republicans — signed the letter.

Association Priorities for Future COVID-19 Legislation

In a letter to Senate leadership, America’s Essential Hospitals outlined priorities for future COVID-19 legislation. The letter highlights the remaining financial and policy needs of essential hospitals, including:

  • $20 billion in targeted Provider Relief Fund payments;
  • Medicaid policy changes, such as a moratorium blocking implementation of the Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Regulation and stopping impending Medicaid disproportionate share hospital cuts;
  • forgiveness, or significant relaxing, of the repayment terms for Medicare accelerated and advanced payments;
  • preservation of 340B Drug Pricing Program eligibility; and
  • liability protections.

The timeline for developing and negotiating the next COVID-19 supplemental legislative package appears to have slipped until July. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) maintains the Republican caucus will first assess how relief measures in previous COVID-19 legislation are working and then determine remaining needs before considering another comprehensive bill.

Senate Republican leadership expects a bill could be ready for action on the Senate floor by late July.

New Law Expands Financial Aid for Small Businesses, Nonprofits

The president last week signed the bipartisan Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (H.R. 7010) to relax key terms of small business and nonprofit loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The new law:

  • extends the period loan recipients have to spend the borrowed funds while retaining eligibility for forgiveness;
  • lengthens the timeline for loan repayment; and
  • reduces the minimum amount of loan funds that must be used toward payroll costs.

Congressional Committees Continue COVID-19 Hearings

Meanwhile, both chambers this week continue committee work related to COVID-19.

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs will hold a June 9 hearing, at 10 am ET, to examine the federal government’s procurement and distribution processes related to COVID-19.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform will convene remotely on June 10, at noon ET, for a hearing on supporting essential workers during the public health emergency.

Upcoming Association Webinar

America’s Essential Hospitals will host a June 10 webinar, at 2 pm ET, on effective fundraising strategies during COVID-19. A representative from the Niemand Collaborative will share practical recommendations and tools for hospitals to shift their development approach from in-person events to maximizing major gifts. Also, association member Valleywise Health Foundation, in Phoenix, will discuss how it employed unique virtual strategies to raise funds during the pandemic to supplement federal emergency funding. Webinars are available at no charge to association members.

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About the Author

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

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