U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer is calling on the Federal government to reevaluate Provider Relief Funding for Hospitals as COVID-19 cases are on the rise.
Schumer, at a press conference in Wyoming County Sunday, said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) needs to start to take into account the recent surges and new serious developments in COVID which have greatly impacted Upstate communities when determining the next round of the American Rescue Plan’s (ARP) pandemic Provider Relief Fund (PRF) payment calculations.
Schumer explained that HHS has not yet released the formula for how the next round of Provider Relief Fund payments will be calculated, but that currently it is marked as “General Distribution” meaning they won’t be taking into account COVID prevalence, but rather only weeks old data financial information that captures revenues lost and additional expenses due to COVID-19 from prior months. In addition, he said providers already had to submit their revenue and loss data for this grant round over a month ago, meaning it will likely not account for the reality facing many Western New York hospitals given the recent surge.
Schumer explained that he is also urging that HHS get the payments for these struggling hospitals, which has already been appropriated as a part of the American Rescue Plan, out the door as soon as possible to help cover the rising costs from the surge in cases.
He also urged HHS to specifically take into account the loss of elective surgery revenue at 32 upstate hospitals that had to suspend elective surgeries starting this week because a spike in COVID-19 hospital admissions has reduced their available bed capacity to 10% or less. Both UPMC Chautauqua and Brooks Memorial are among those 32 hospitals.
Senator Schumer has delivered over $13.5 billion in grant funding to New York hospitals and providers through the Provider Relief Fund. In Chautauqua County, since the beginning of the Pandemic, UPMC Chautauqua has received $17,618,300 in Provider Relief Funds with Brooks Memorial receiving $10,468,315.