Collins, King Call on HHS to Help Rural Hospitals During COVID-19 Outbreak

In a letter to HHS Secretary Azar, 122 lawmakers urge Administration to provide immediate financial assistance to rural health care providers amid COVID-19 pandemic.

Washington, D.C. –U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King sent a letter urging Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to provide immediate assistance to rural hospitals and clinics.  Senators Collins and King joined 41 Senators and 81 Representatives in requesting the Administration use funding included in the recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help rural health care providers.

The lawmakers point out that the vast majority of rural hospitals have ceased performing elective procedures and seeing non-urgent patients. They know the COVID-19 emergency confronting our country must take precedence. However, these actions threaten rural hospitals’ financial viability.

“We are hearing from rural hospitals from across the country that have only days left of cash on hand – money needed for payroll and supplies,” wrote the lawmakers. “Mr. Secretary, our rural providers need your immediate assistance. Congress has provided you with the funding and flexibility. Now it is up to the administration to respond with rapid action to sustain rural providers. Any unnecessary delay will only worsen this situation. Therefore, we request you make the financial relief of rural hospitals a priority. Rural hospitals need access to financial resources immediately and in the most streamlined manner.”

The lawmakers also request the administration host a teleconference with members of Congress by April 3, 2020 to provide an update on how they intend to assist rural providers and hospitals across the country.

In addition to Senators Collins and King, the letter was signed by Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), John Kennedy (R-LA), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), James Lankford (R-OK), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), Martha McSally (R-AZ),Roger Wicker (R-MS), Steve Daines(R-MT), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Todd Young (R-IN), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tina Smith (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Tom Udall (D-NM), Jon Tester (D-MT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), JamesRisch (R-ID), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), John Boozman (R-AR), John Hoeven (R-ND), David Perdue (R-GA), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Joe Manchin III (D-WV), KyrstenSinema (D-AZ), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Catherine CortezMasto (D-NV).
 
Click HERE to read the full letter.