Major hospital and medical groups called for Congress to provide $100 billion in direct assistance to front-line healthcare workers and hospitals so they can get ready for the influx of COVID-19 patients.
The letter, sent Thursday by the American Hospital Association (AHA), the American Nurses Association and the American Medical Association, comes as some healthcare systems are beginning to be overwhelmed in hot spots of COVID-19 outbreaks.
“Due to expenses to treat COVID-19 patients, hospitals are currently losing up to $1 million per day,” the letter to congressional leaders said. “This loss may increase as the outbreak spreads.”
The letter calls for immediate funding in three areas. The first is a stabilization fund that will include covering losses due to the suspension of elective services, a key moneymaker for hospitals.
The fund will also help cover training on telemedicine and telehealth as well as increased costs for more healthcare staff. Hospitals should also get money for construction and retrofitting facilities to create separate areas to screen for COVID-19.
Another major priority is ensuring childcare for front-line healthcare professionals. This can be done by partnering with schools or daycare centers to provide funding for childcare.
“Schools have closed in numerous states, leaving many front line health care personnel with an impossible choice—caring for their children or caring for their patients—a choice that can be alleviated if Congress takes swift and comprehensive action to assist with providing childcare during this unprecedented time,” the letter said.
Congress must also provide funding for the capacity to care for mild or moderately sick COVID-19 patients at alternative care sites.
“This is a crucial step in ensuring we have as much inpatient capacity as possible to respond to the sickest COVID-19 patients,” the letter said. “Funding also may involve creating temporary structures.”
The request comes after the AHA sent a separate letter to Congress asking them to include direct assistance in a financial stimulus package the White House and Congress are hammering out.
Lawmakers are debating a package of nearly $1 trillion that could include direct economic assistance to every American, payroll tax holidays and economic assistance to small businesses.
Providers wanted to make sure lawmakers did not forget about them in the run-up to the stimulus but did not give a direct number until its latest letter on Thursday.