Federal funds help offset health care’s industry’s red ink

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WASHINGTON, DC (WTVQ) – As health care providers are furloughing employees and cut hours and pay in the wake of as much as $1.2 billion in losses due to the coronavirus epidemic, the industry gets a financial shot in the arm from $452,761,171 in federal funds.

The money is the first distribution from the $100 billion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act approved by Congress, according to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY.

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This first funding will be distributed among more than 3,900 Kentucky medical providers and systems, based on their share of certain 2019 Medicare reimbursements. Future distributions to Kentucky will follow different metrics established by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The bipartisan CARES Act, which is the biggest rescue package in history, passed with a 96 to 0 vote and was signed into law by President Donald Trump. As a result of the CARES Act, Kentucky will receive at least $1.25 billion in relief.

“One of the primary goals of the CARES Act was to rush new resources to our healthcare heroes battling the coronavirus in hospitals and emergency rooms. The immediate cash relief announced today will help these medical providers fulfill their mission to care for those in need,” McConnell said.

“Doctors, nurses and other professionals are showing inspirational courage as they work on the frontlines of this crisis,” he added.

“KHA is grateful to Senator Mitch McConnell for his leadership on the CARES Act, which will bring some much-needed relief to Kentucky’s hospitals,” said Nancy Galvagni, president of the Kentucky Hospital Association. “Kentucky hospital revenue has declined by an estimated 40 percent as hospitals have cancelled elective procedures per the request of the Governor

“KHA estimates the lost revenue to hospitals, for just an eight-week period, is between $600 million and $1.3 billion. While hospitals were ready and willing to do everything in their power to protect their health care workers and the public by cancelling these procedures, it is increasingly difficult for hospitals to cover their ongoing expenses and some have had to furlough employees. This first tranche of relief payments will be a tremendous help to Kentucky’s hospitals,” Galvagni added.

“This funding is a lifeline that will allow us to continue our focus on serving the seriously ill and support our hospital and nursing home partners with expert end of life care,” said Liz Fowler, CEO of Kentucky-based hospice provider Bluegrass Care Navigators.

“With prices for things like face masks that have gone up as much as 2,000 percent, the CARES Act funding is essential in the face of COVID-19 to ensuring access to high-quality hospice and palliative care services,” Fowler added.

In addition to Friday’s announcement, Kentucky has so far received more than $350 million to address urgent housing, transportation, healthcare, education and economic development priorities from the CARES Act.