Florida Democrats Want HHS, CMS to Quickly Send Funds to Help Hospitals Deal With Coronavirus

Democrats in the Florida delegation in the U.S. House are calling on the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Department and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to quickly send funds to hospitals across the Sunshine State as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla., led the letter to U.S. HHS Sec. Alex Azar and CMS Administrator Seema Verma. Other members of the delegation who signed the letter include Florida Democrat U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Alcee Hastings, Darren Soto, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson.

“I demand that the Trump administration disburse this emergency funding immediately so that our hospitals are fully staffed, fully stocked with the necessary protective equipment, and ready to confront Florida’s anticipated apex of COVID-19 patients in April,” said Mucarsel-Powell. “Our doctors, nurses, and other professionals working to save lives must receive the critical aid that Congress allocated weeks ago.

The Democrats in the Florida delegation sent the letter on Thursday.

“Due to following recommended guidelines to cancel elective surgeries and non-urgent medical procedures while dealing with COVID-19, hospitals throughout our districts are faced with budgetary shortfalls and are facing the difficult decision to make drastic cuts. Hospitals are considering measures such as laying off or furloughing personnel. This includes doctors and nurses directly treating patients, but it also includes other staff such as nutrition workers, security, sanitation staff, finance technicians, and other workers critical to the operation of the healthcare facility,” they wrote.

“During this pandemic, we must do everything in our power to avoid reductions in staff at our healthcare facilities. As you know, in the latest CARES Act legislation, Congress allocated over $100 billion specifically for our hospitals to reimburse them for outstanding costs while also ensuring their providers receive the needed support for COVID-19 related expenses and lost revenue. The intent of this provision was in part to quickly inject funding directly into our hospital system, so our healthcare facilities would not be forced to reduce staffing,” the representatives added.

“This afternoon, Vice President Pence and Administrator Verma briefed the Democratic Caucus on the status of that funding, informing members that the current plan is to release the funding in three tranches. The first $30 billion scheduled for disbursement tomorrow would be to providers treating Medicare recipients, with subsequent disbursals at a currently unknown date addressing professionals who typically do not see Medicare patients and to cover costs treating the uninsured,” they continued.

“Our hospitals, and the staff risking their lives each day working at these facilities, cannot afford to wait. We must give the teams at our hospitals the assurances that their budgets will remain intact, so they can focus their efforts on ensuring that they have the resources needed to protect their workforce. And our doctors, nurses, and other professionals working in our healthcare facilities have the peace of mind that their jobs are not at immediate risk and can concentrate their efforts on saving lives. We urge you to disburse this funding immediately so hospitals can avoid taking drastic steps to reduce their payrolls, and to quickly give Congress the information needed to assess the amount of additional funding required in future legislative packages addressing this pandemic,” they wrote in conclusion.


Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

Kevin Derby
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