House leadership: Next funding package on COVID-19 likely to target states, not hospitals

Both the AH&LA and AAHOA released statements in support of the President’s call for bipartisan efforts to improve border security and ongoing job growth.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer shared details on talks for the next round of COVID-19 relief funding, with the next package expected to target states and localities and not hospitals. (Getty Images/Bill Chizek)

The next COVID-19 economic stimulus package will likely provide targeted funding to states, localities and tribes that have seen their budgets decimated by the outbreak, a member of House Democratic leadership told reporters.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters during a call Tuesday that talks on the next package are ongoing and that the House won’t return next week as originally planned. The previous rounds of funding had included targeted aid for hospitals, but Hoyer only said that the package still being debated could include funding for healthcare infrastructure and did not elaborate.

“States made it clear they are being stretched for resources by spending unanticipated money responding to coronavirus,” said Hoyer.

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The House was originally expected to return next week, but House leadership scrapped that idea after talks with the attending physician for Congress.

It remains unclear how much money would be in the next package, but Hoyer said one figure being bandied about is $500 billion.

The comments come a week after President Donald Trump signed into law a $484 billion package that included $75 billion for providers and another $25 billion for tests. A few weeks ago, Congress passed a $2.2 trillion package that included $100 billion for providers.

Provider groups have thanked Congress for the additional funding as hospitals and physician practices have faced declining revenue due to the suspension of elective procedures and low patient volume. But they have also stressed that more help is needed. 

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Healthcare groups are pushing for other policies to be inserted into the next round of funding.

A collection of hospital and provider groups alongside insurance lobbying group America’s Health Insurance Plans wrote a letter to Congress on Tuesday seeking policies that would expand insurance coverage.

The letter calls for opening a special enrollment period on the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges, increasing eligibility for federal subsidies on the exchanges and giving employers subsidies to preserve health benefits.

Trump has been resistant to start another special enrollment period for the exchanges.