Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) sent a letter (attached) yesterday urging Congressional Appropriations leaders to pass a comprehensive COVID-19 response bill that includes funding for state and local governments, health care providers, vaccine distribution, personal protective equipment and testing, and health workers. The letter states that due to major expense increases related to the COVID-19 response and overall revenue losses of $20-25 billion, New York hospitals will experience substantial financial strain—especially considering New York State’s projected budget gap ($30 billion over the next two years because of COVID-19).
In addition to substantial funding for a state and local government stabilization fund, the letter seeks to boost the Families First Coronavirus Response Act’s temporary 6.2% increase in the Federal medical matching percentages (FMAP) to at least 14%. It also seeks to boost the State hospital DSH allotments to adjust for the increased FMAP. Furthermore, the letter calls for eliminating Medicaid DSH cuts and suspending the Medicare sequester cuts for at least the duration of the pandemic. The letter also requests that a relief bill should convert the Medicare advances into a grant/loan forgiveness program.
As for the CARES Act PRF, the letter requests an increase in funding from $175 billion to at least $275 billion and requests that HHS provide flexibility on how a provider can define lost revenue. As the letter explains, providing flexibility on PRF requirements would allow health systems to allocate resources among their subsidiaries according to patient need and would enable providers to use funds for emergency use related to COVID-19 and make permanent infrastructure improvements in preparation for future public health crises.
GNYHA advocated for this letter and continues to work with Senator Gillibrand and the New York Congressional delegation to include our hospital members’ COVID-19 priorities in a Federal stimulus bill. We are grateful to Senator Gillibrand for sending this letter and for being a staunch advocate on behalf of New York’s health care community.