Many states are beginning to lift restrictions put in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including resuming elective surgeries in hospitals.
States are at varied stages of resuming elective surgeries. For instance:
- Utah Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on April 17 issued an executive order to loosen restrictions on elective surgeries in the state after consulting with the Utah Hospital Association, the Utah Medical Association, and the Utah Dental Association;
- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D)on April 21 announced some hospitals can resume elective surgeries as long as they continue to ensure adequate bed capacity for the COVID-19 response. Cuomo clarified only hospitals in counties with fewer than 10 COVID-19 hospitalizations will be allowed to reopen elective surgeries;
- Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) on April 22 released guidance that removed restrictions on performing elective surgeries if the hospitals can show they have certain measures in place, such as having a 14-day supply of personal protective equipment, staffing, and beds;
- Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R), Lt. Governor Jon Husted (R), and state Department of Health Director Amy Acton, MD, MPH, on April 22 issued an order that directs health care workers to closely look at postponed procedures and make a joint decision on whether to resume; and
- The Pennsylvania Department of Health on April 27 released a statement allowing hospitals to resume elective surgeries and procedures as long as the facilities are able to continue to protect health care workers and patients from COVID-19.
NAMD Letter to HHS
On April 27, the National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD) sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requesting the administration work with Medicaid directors to distribute needed funds to Medicaid providers due to the COVID-19 public health crisis.
In addition to requesting immediate engagement with Medicaid directors on distribution of funds, NAMD asked HHS for greater transparency on funding allocations to providers. The letter stated that the current funding amounts to address COVID-19 have been insufficient for Medicaid providers. While the letter did not specifically mention essential hospitals, NAMD asked HHS to consider that hospitals serving the most vulnerable are especially impacted by the pandemic.
Report: States Should Increase Testing Before Reopening
According to a report by Harvard researchers and STAT, 31 states and Washington, D.C., have an insufficient amount of testing and are not able to identify infected people in a timely manner.
The report found that 10 states would need to increase their testing totals by 10,000 each day to adequately identify infected people; New York would have to perform more than 100,000 tests per day. Most of the information available about testing for COVID-19 is on the national level, but Harvard Global Health Institute Director Ashish Jha said, “You can’t just take the national number and scale it to states by their population,” which is why this study was created.
In addition to performing more tests for states to reopen, researchers found states need to analyze tests more quickly and health care workers need to efficiently contact people at risk of being exposed. The report concluded many states have a long way to go before they are able to safely reopen, and testing capacity will remain an essential tool.
We encourage all members to visit the America’s Essential Hospitals coronavirus resource page for more information about the outbreak.
Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.