A bipartisan House letter urges Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to rescind the harmful Sept. 19 notice that changed Provider Relief Fund (PRF) reporting requirements, potentially forcing essential hospitals and other providers to return portions of previously distributed COVID-19 relief funds.
Congress appropriated $175 billion in much-needed funding through the PRF. In guidance and FAQs issued June 19, HHS outlined the terms and conditions for accepting these funds. However, the agency last month abruptly altered course post-payment and issued new requirements inconsistent with previous guidance, including a detrimental change to the definition of “lost revenue.”
The letter — led by Reps. David McKinley (R-WV), Mike Levin (D-CA), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Frank Lucas (R-OK), and Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) — calls on HHS to reinstate the June 19 guidance.
The association last week sent an Action Alert urging member hospitals to contact their congressional delegations in support of this effort. Lawmakers have until Oct. 22 to sign the letter.
COVID-19 Relief Remains Elusive
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) continue attempts to negotiate an agreement on COVID-19 relief legislation.
Despite ongoing discussion, the administration and Democrats remain divided on critical components of the package. Most notably, the two sides disagree on the overall cost of the relief package; COVID-19 testing and contact tracing provisions; and additional state and local government funding. Pelosi has announced an agreement must be reached by Oct. 20 to pass relief legislation before Election Day.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced the Senate this week will consider a smaller, targeted COVID-19 relief legislative package. There will be two votes: one to provide new funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, and one on additional relief for other sectors. Together, the packages are expected to cost about $500 billion.
Senate Expected to Advance SCOTUS Nomination
Following hearings last week, Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court is expected to clear the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday. The full Senate is expected to begin considering her nomination on Friday, with a final vote possible over the weekend.
The Supreme Court on Nov. 10 is scheduled to hear oral arguments for the Texas vs. California case, the latest legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act.