- The American Hospital Association is urging HHS to distribute at least $50 billion more in funding from the $175 billion allocated by Congress to hospitals as providers continue to wrestle with the challenges spurred by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
- More funds are "urgently needed" for the more than 5,000 hospitals and health systems AHA represents, the group wrote in a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday.
- While AHA is calling for more money for all hospitals, it also wants a special focus paid to hospitals in hot spot areas and those serving a higher number of Medicaid and uninsured patients.
AHA is requesting $10 billion for hot spot areas, $10 billion for hospitals with a larger share of Medicaid and uninsured patients and another $30 billion for all hospitals, including inpatient rehabilitation centers and inpatient psychiatric facilities.
Making substantial funds of money available will help facilities weather the pandemic and will "actually ensure they are able to keep their doors open," AHA CEO Richard Pollack wrote. The second quarter is expected be the hardest hit to hospital operations.
On Tuesday, the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response said it was making available another $225 million for health systems. That's a drop in the bucket compared to the total federal funds that have already gone out the door.
So far, the federal government has earmarked a total of $175 billion to disperse to hospitals and providers across the country. Only a portion of those funds have gone out. Initially, HHS sent out $30 billion directed to all eligible hospitals, based on Medicare fee-for-service. The criteria for funding faced criticism over seemingly giving an advantage to certain hospitals over others, such as those with many Medicaid patients.
Other more targeted tranches have followed, including $20 billion based on net patient service revenue. Disbursements of $10 and $12 billion were reserved for rural providers and hot spots, respectively.
AHA's latest requests seems to acknowledge the concerns others have raised about providers with high Medicaid numbers.
Late last month, America's Essential Hospitals, which represent safety net hospitals, said the administration should quickly move to dstribute more funding to facilities serving large shares of uninsured and Medicaid members.
"They continue to struggle with the heavy financial costs of this public health emergency and need relief now," Bruce Siegel, CEO of AEH, said in a statement.
HHS developed funding formulas that rely heavily on a Medicare and net patient service revenue, so facilities that rely more on Medicaid as opposed to private insurers and Medicare, like pediatric hospitals, are at a disadvantage when it comes to receiving funds.
As such, AHA is calling for an additional $20 billion, divided evenly between hot spot hospitals and those with a large share of Medicaid patients.
"These hospitals care for the nation’s most vulnerable patients, who, largely as a result of underlying health conditions, have suffered disproportionately from the pandemic. They have been hospitalized at greater rates, and required more care and resources once hospitalized," AHA said of hospitals with large shares of Medicaid patients.