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Blunt, 121 Members of Congress Send Bipartisan, Bicameral Letter Calling on HHS to Help Rural Health Providers

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

March 31, 2020

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, joined a bipartisan, bicameral group of 121 Members of Congress in sending a letter to the Trump administration calling for immediate assistance to rural hospitals and clinics.
The lawmakers specifically called on Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to use funding included in the recently-passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to sustain rural health providers. 
The CARES Act included $100 billion to reimburse health providers for costs associated with responding to COVID-19. It is important that these funds are provided to rural providers because the decision to cease performing elective procedures and seeing non-urgent patients can affect rural hospitals more significantly because they have smaller population bases and smaller financial margins. In addition to providing this funding, Blunt was integral in ensuring that hospitals are able to receive prospective payments for COVID-19 related care. This allows hospitals to receive funding prior to expenditures, because many small and rural hospitals do not have the financial means to make large purchases, like ventilators, upfront.
In their letter, the lawmakers urged Azar to take immediate steps to provide financial relief for rural providers during this global pandemic:
“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 requested 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.

Click here to read the letter.

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