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Rush, Davis Introduce Relief Bill For Safety Net Hospitals Hit Hard By Pandemic Losses

May 13, 2021

Targeted relief could benefit more than 700 hospitals serving high-need populations in nearly every state

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representatives Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) and Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.) introduced legislation that would appropriate $10 billion for healthcare providers who serve large numbers of Medicaid-eligible individuals (also known as "high Medicaid providers" or "safety net hospitals") from the Provider Relief Fund originally established by the CARES Act. Safety net hospitals, which, even in good times, operate under severe fiscal constraints, have faced immense financial hardship over the past year as revenues from in-patient and emergency room visits, surgeries, and other sources these providers generally depend on to offset low payment rates from Medicaid, have plummeted.

Establishing a robust and separate funding stream would address the sustained, substantial economic losses faced by safety net health care providers and benefit more than 700 hospitals serving high-need populations in nearly every state in the country, including in Illinois's:

  • First Congressional District: Provident Hospital and The University of Chicago Medical Center
  • Seventh Congressional District: John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital, West Suburban Medical Center, Garfield Park Hospital, Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, and Mount Sinai Hospital

"Our nation's health care providers have faced severe financial strain over the past year. While Congress has acted to alleviate this hardship by establishing the Provider Relief Fund, hundreds of providers serving our most at-risk populations have been at a disadvantage in accessing that funding. We continue to hear from safety net hospitals in and serving our districts who are facing dire financial strain. One thing is absolutely clear: we cannot afford to let these providers — who serve some of the most vulnerable populations in our communities — go under. This bill provides dedicated funding to the hospitals currently facing the greatest need, and we hope to see Congress come together to pass it expeditiously," said Rush and Davis.

"Lurie Children's has suffered severe economic damage during the pandemic. With a majority of our patients enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP, it is a challenge to maintain services for children with rare and highly complex conditions without relief. We thank Representatives Rush and Davis for their leadership in addressing this crisis," said Dr. Thomas Shanley, President and CEO of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.

"The Front Line Hospital Alliance applauds Representatives Bobby L. Rush and Danny Davis for introducing legislation to offer desperately needed relief for high Medicaid providers that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Our ‘super safety-net' hospitals are on front lines of vaccinating vulnerable populations while simultaneously suffering significant losses and expenses from COVID, all of which has weakened our ability to care for underserved populations, many of whom have been most harmed by the pandemic," said Robin D. Wittenstein, Ed.D, FACHE, Chief Executive Officer of Denver Health and Chair of the Front Line Hospital Alliance.

Prior distributions from the Provider Relief Fund were based on a percentage of revenue formula that put high Medicaid providers at a disadvantage, which was only partially addressed in subsequent allocations. There is currently an estimated $24 billion remaining in the Provider Relief Fund, but, to date, no distributions have been made for any revenue losses incurred after June 2020.

The full text of the legislation is available HERE.

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Issues:Health Care