Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins joined a bipartisan group of colleagues in urging Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to reconsider changes made to reporting requirements for the Provider Relief Fund. These changes have the potential to create financial hardships and uncertainty for hospitals across the country, especially those operating in rural areas.
“In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our health care providers need more certainty, not less. The CARES Act, enacted in March 2020, established the Provider Relief Fund to reimburse eligible health care providers for health care-related expenses and lost revenues attributable to the coronavirus. Hospitals and other providers received funds and have budgeted accordingly,” the Senators wrote. “However, we are still in the midst of a pandemic and providers continue to face uncertainty in terms of loss of revenue from delayed procedures and care as well as increased expenses related to COVID-19.”
“In September Health and Human Services issued updated guidance for hospitals and health care providers regarding reporting of COVID-19 relief funds received during the pandemic,” said Lisa Harvey-McPherson, Vice President of Government Relations for Northern Light Health. “The guidance represents a significant change with negative financial impact at a time when our hospitals, nursing homes, home care staff and others are working to meet the health care needs of Maine citizens and recovering from the significant COVID-19 financial impact. The flawed directive from Health and Human Services results in the Government taking back COVID-19 relief funds from our rural hospitals, nursing homes and home care services. We thank Senator Collins for her leadership and support expressing grave concerns directly to HHS Secretary Azar, regarding changes in the reporting requirements and negative impact on rural health care services.”
Amid the ongoing pandemic, Senator Collins has worked hard to support rural and safety net hospitals. As part of Congress’ response to the pandemic, Senator Collins has supported legislation providing approximately $3 trillion to respond to the public health and economic crisis, and she has secured more than $450 million for Maine’s health care providers. In June, she introduced the PPP for Critical Access Hospitals Act, legislation that allows nonprofit critical access hospitals to apply for forgivable loans under the Paycheck Protection Program.
In addition to Senator Collins, the letter was signed by Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Joe Manchin (R-W.V.), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), David Perdue (R-Ga.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Kyrsten Sinema (R-Ariz.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), John Thune (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
Click HERE to read the full letter.