Hospitals get $100B in massive stimulus deal as facilities face COVID-19

Hospitals and community health centers could get $130 billion as part of a $2 trillion economic stimulus package to help meet the skyrocketing increases of COVID-19 cases. 

Senate leaders announced the bipartisan deal early Wednesday morning and are expected to vote on it today. 

If ultimately passed, hospitals alone would get $100 billion to cover related expenses for meeting COVID-19 outbreak and for recouping lost revenue, according to a summary of the bill. Hospitals across the country have also lost revenue as most have canceled elective procedures. Hospital leaders on a call with reporters on Saturday said they are likely to miss payroll in a few weeks without help. 

The bill also offers $16 billion to the Strategic National Stockpile of medical supplies and $11 billion to fund the development of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics and other medical needs.

Other parts of the bill include:

  • $200 million for the Federal Communications Commission to help healthcare providers offering telehealth;
  • No less than $250 million to boost the capacity of healthcare facilities;
  • $275 million to expand services and capacity for rural hospitals, telehealth, poison control centers and the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program; and
  • $4 million to HHS’ Office of the Inspector General for oversight activities.

The legislation also includes $150 billion for states and major unemployment insurance to cover the salaries of any Americans who are laid off. It also gives assistance to small businesses.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement on Wednesday that the Democratic caucus will review the proposal.

The deal got plaudits from some provider groups. The American Hospital Association, which alongside several other groups made the $100 billion request, said that the bill has provisions that will help facilities handle the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The group lauded the creation of an "emergency fund grant program, additional support for taking care of COVID-19 patients and relief from spending cuts, among other provisions," AHA CEO Rick Pollack said in a statement.

"While this legislation is an important first step forward, more will need to be done to deal with the unprecedented challenge of this virus," Pollack added.

The American Medical Association also appreciated provisions to target the supply of personal protective equipment like masks. 

"At this critical moment, physician practices need significant financial support to sustain themselves and continue to meet the health care needs of all Americans during this time," said AMA President Patrice Harris, MD.