U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) on Tuesday issued a report that delays by the President Trump administration to quickly distribute $175 billion in COVID-19 relief funds to hospitals have placed the institutions on the “financial brink.”
The inaction, Peters said, has resulted in significant employee layoffs and furloughs during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Certainly, our hospitals did not receive the help that they should have received given the fact that they were dealing with a crisis of such large proportions,” Peters said during a media conference call. “So, we are recommending that the [Trump] administration should allocate disbursements based on need, and those areas in particular based on hot spots.”
The report’s executive summary reads: “Hospitals nationwide are facing a historic financial crisis due to the impacts of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Unfortunately, despite significant financial assistance provided by Congress, delays and missteps from the Trump administration prevented an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Peters, the Democrat ranking member on the upper chamber’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee, said that the administration should also place a focus on rural and safety net hospitals. He is running for reelection in the fall, likely facing GOP businessman John James.
The key finding of the report is that nearly three months after the CARES Act was signed into law, about $72 billion – or 41% – of funding approved by Congress to support hospitals has still not been distributed.
It also found that these delays have contributed to the health care industry’s financial crisis, which has forced at least 260 hospitals nationwide to temporarily furlough or permanently lay off health care workers. The report calls for immediate action to distribute the remaining funds and prioritize funds for hospitals in coronavirus hotspots as well as rural and low-income hospitals, which are at higher risk of closure.
Report recommendations include:
- Expediting distribution of remaining $72 billion of funds within four weeks.
- Allocating additional disbursements to COVID-19 hot spot areas.
- Allocating additional disbursements to rural and safety net hospitals.
- Passing the additional $100 billion in the HEROES Act for the Provider Relief Fund