Major provider groups have called on the Senate to include an additional $100 billion in COVID-19 relief funds as talks heat up on Capitol Hill for a new legislative package.
The American Hospital Association, American Nurses Association and American Medical Association wrote a letter to Senate leaders on Wednesday pressing for more funding. The pressure comes as hospitals and providers are struggling to combat a major financial crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Physicians, nurses, hospitals and health systems all across the country are incurring expenses due to sourcing and purchasing additional and potentially more expensive supplies and equipment, when available,” the letter said.
The groups added that facilities are facing more expenses with adding staff, standing up emergency operation centers and providing housing and care for patients who don’t require hospitalization “but do not have housing in order to prevent spread of COVID-19; and construction or retrofitting facilities.”
At the same time, providers are experiencing a significant financial revenue loss due to lower patient volume and the cancellation of elective procedures.
“For outpatient providers, there continues to be decreased demand for services, and those offices and facilities that are open are scheduling fewer patients due to social distancing precautions while incurring higher expenses for scarce personal protective equipment and other supplies,” the letter said.
So the groups are asking Congress for an additional $100 billion and for Health and Human Services to "infuse these funds as soon as possible.”
Hospital groups such as the AHA have also requested Congress to forgive loans made to providers under the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payments Program.
The White House and Congress have been negotiating now for a new legislative package and Congress faces a deadline of July 31, when enhanced unemployment benefits expire.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday that he hopes to address healthcare in the new package but declined to offer any specifics.
The House passed a $3 trillion package more than a month ago that includes $100 billion for providers. But that package has stalled in the Senate as Republicans deem it is too partisan.