Sens. Tom Carper, D-Delaware; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan; Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey; Ben Cardin, D-Maryland; Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania; and Michael Bennett, D-Colorado, urged the Department of Health and Human Services to immediately provide hospitals, nursing homes, community health centers, hospice providers and other essential community health providers with the financial support necessary to prevent, prepare for and respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter sent April 7 to Vice President Mike Pence and HHS Secretary Alex Azar, the senators urged the Trump administration to immediately distribute an initial round of funding from the $100 billion that was included as part of the CARES Act to give all hospitals and other health care providers resources for protective equipment, preparation and surge capacity necessary to manage the spread of COVID-19. The letter follows recent reports indicating the administration plans to delay the distribution of the funds and instead reimburse hospitals retroactively.
“While we appreciate that HHS has expressed an intent to distribute the funds in a way that is ‘fast, fair, simple and transparent,’ we are concerned by recent reports indicating the Trump administration intends to delay the distribution of essential funds from the Emergency Fund and use them to retroactively reimburse hospitals for providing care to uninsured Americans,” wrote the senators. “Holding Emergency Fund resources hostage with the intent to distribute them retroactively to certain hospitals for care provided to uninsured individuals would limit our capacity to manage this crisis, and result in an unequal distribution of resources that would come too little, too late.”
The senators also pressed the administration to consider reopening enrollment for the Affordable Care Act and to work with the remaining states to expand their Medicaid programs. Doing so would allow all Americans to sign up for health coverage and reduce the potential burden of uncompensated care on hospitals across the country.
The text of the letter is available at brown.senate.gov/download/emergency-fund-letter.