Three healthcare groups are asking Congress for $100 billion in funding to offset costs related to the Covid-19 pandemic. The American Hospital Association, American Medical Association and American Nurses Association said the funds could make a difference in how health systems are able to respond to the fast-moving virus, which had caused 201 deaths in the U.S. as of Friday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The three industry groups estimated that hospitals are losing up to $1 million per day in expenses for treating Covid-19 patients.
‘This loss may increase as the outbreak spreads,” they wrote. “There are extraordinary efforts to supply needed equipment.”
The groups asked Congress to create a stabilization fund for emergency expenses related to Covid-19, which would cover costs related to testing, training healthcare providers, and purchasing more equipment. In hard-hit areas, such as Seattle and New York, physicians are already reporting a lack of protective equipment and shortages in ICU beds.
The funds would also go to surge capacity as hospitals see more critically ill patients. Those patients could potentially be routed to outpatient wings or temporary structures, where they could receive more intensive care.
They are also asking that Congress provide funding for childcare for healthcare workers, freeing up more people to treat sick patients.
“It is our mission to care for our communities and without a significant financial commitment from Congress, our front line health care personnel and providers will struggle to respond,” they wrote. “We ask that Congress provide resources to ensure America’s health care system can respond with the best possible outcome.”
Separately, on Friday, the AHA also asked for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to let hospitals receive payments that could offset lost revenues from postponing elective procedures.
The hospitals are calling for periodic interim payments, which would allow hospitals to receive consistent payments when their work is otherwise disrupted. The AHA said the payments could compensate for procedures that are delayed but will take place after hospitals see a surge from the Covid-19 pandemic.
CMS previously instructed hospitals to cancel elective and low-acuity procedures in order to maximize protective equipment and ICU beds. For smaller hospitals, particularly those in rural areas, the AHA said this had created a “massive financial burden.”
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